I am in complete and utter awe at this collection of music. Wholesale fucking awe! I have been a fan of The Arusha Accord since the very beginning and have loved each release more than the last. They said after touring 2009’s The Echo Verses that they were going to back off for a while. The hype machine was in full force and The Arusha Accord looked on the cusp of big things, but felt they needed to do different things and re-focus on the music. Well, going by how absolutely incredible Juracan is after that amount of time away, Tool better be delivering the best record humanity has ever heard.
A bit of background first. Juracan is the first of four EP’s that will form a whole album. It’s a great idea that allows you to take in smaller increments of music, let it get under your skin, permeate your consciousness, and feed your soul ready to digest the next offering. These natives of Reading, England were a six piece up until the last year or so. Vocalist Alex Green parted ways due to personal reasons and Tom Hollings (guitar) left to focus on other projects, along with his young family. This has left four in the shape of Paul Green (vocals), Luke William (bass), James Clayton (guitar) and Mark Vincent (drums).
Very cleverly, things kick off with a ‘Blackened Heart,’ which is the track that most resembles what has come before. Kicking straight in with chaos, this is the first of three tracks that still feature Alex Green. The trademark back and forth between vocalists is more vicious than ever. Coupled with some of the filthiest dis-chords this side of Botch, and you are on the ride whether you like it or not. Then, something happens, and it opens up into something very pretty whilst still seeming a little menacing.
‘Vultures’ is also not too far away from The Arusha Accord’s previous work, but then, it kind of is! What I mean is that it does feel familiar, but has new components, and is one of the best tracks the band has ever penned. Often people want a song to show what a band is all about. This is one of those, as it displays most of what is in TAA’s very large and accomplished arsenal. It is almost five minutes of music that for me really hits home. I will miss the way that Alex and Paul’s voices intertwine, enriching each other. Mark Vincent’s drumming on this track is nothing short of sensational in the way that he keeps the feeling of the track erratic even when things somewhat smooth out.
‘The Road’ acts almost as an interlude or gateway into what I think is a definite change of tack for the second half of the EP. These three minutes again showcase the way those two brilliant voices work together over some very simple but effective instrumentation. Williams, Clayton, and Vincent serve the song first and foremost.
‘Beneath the Dule Tree’ possesses possibly the coolest riff you will hear this year. The musical back drop here is achingly pretty, and serves as the perfect stage for Paul Green to let it rip, with all his different voices layered to dazzling effect. This is the first time he has appeared as the only vocalist. I don’t know what the plans are for playing live, but on record, all worries are abated. Seriously, he’s got this and then some. For me, if forced, this is the pick of the bunch, but the closing mini epic, ‘The Dark Pane,’ is probably going to get most of the attention from the hardcore Prog Metal fans. During it’s seven minute run time, I hear elements of Rush, Genesis, Tool, Yes, Pink Floyd, Protest the Hero, and Beneath the Buried and Me. Again, I know I’m going on, as Green’s vocals have always been superb, but here they are transcendent. The repeated string pattern on the closing refrain is nothing short of inspired, and adds wonderfully to the drama.
Make no mistake, The Arusha Accord are masters at what they do. They might just be one of the acts to break out of the genre that birthed them all those years ago. So many bands that came from the Technical Metal/Math Metal scene bent to fit the genre, whereas The Arusha Accord are of the rare breed that bend the genre to fit them, and re-write the rules to create true art that does what it is supposed to – move you and make you glad to be alive. Juracan is a masterpiece, through and through.