Apollo Ra – Ra Pariah
It’s been a while, I know.
I should start where I left off, in the triumph of securing the training programme of my dreams, in a world-renowned centre for Orthopaedic surgery. My girlfriends and I
headed out to sunny Ibiza, and as the deep bass filled my belly (you know that feeling?) under tangerine sunsets, it was quite difficult to be concerned about much more than where we would quaff our next flute of prosecco. Shortly afterwards, my thirtieth birthday, the very event I had hoped to commemorate with this blog, passed somewhat insignificantly, if I’m honest.
Then began a series of ‘last’s, each so heart-breaking that any attempt at writing only resulted in garbled emotional vomit (but don’t worry, you haven’t entirely escaped it).
It’s really hard to describe what my house has meant to me. After all, a house is just another thing, right? A possession. And yet, when I look around, all I see is the love and
laughter of almost a decade – bringing Potato home when she was nothing more than a quivering handful of black fluff, Pumpkin’s first tentative steps as a free pup after his stint at the RSPCA, countless beer-and-pizza nights with my bandmates, increasingly ridiculously themed Christmas meals, and my beautiful pink rose bush that still remains the only thing in our garden that I haven’t managed to kill.
It soon became clear that the house would have to be sold, as maintaining the house
remotely would be too difficult. And so, the mural in our kitchen that I painted in my very first week of living here, that had presided over countless happy dinners was finally painted over, and it was hard to swallow back tears. I felt the need to caress the walls, like a madwoman – suddenly every mark on the walls, every chip in the paint tugged at my heartstrings – flawed, but still mine.
I then played my last gig with Soul Shredder, after a decade of sharing the stage with some of the best musicians (and all round stand up lads) I have known. As if leaving my beautiful home wasn’t bad enough, it started to dawn on me that I soon would no longer have the comfort of the lovely A sat next to me
every morning at work, stifling giggles over coffee and sneaky snapchats, no E down the road to struggle through a HIIT class with me, or make me spend my life savings at French Connection, and no more impromptu cheesy heavy-metal nights with T, who has kept me rich in beer, snacks and t-shirts for the best part of ten years. For the first time in a long while, I felt the weight of loneliness again
And so, after a long hiatus, I have limped back to the listening corner, acutely aware that my little sanctuary is soon be dismantled and boxed away.
The second of their two releases (the first demo might only be two tracks, but it’s an absolute beast), Ra Pariah came to be mine in the form of No Remorse’s neat little remaster from 2015. The first clue to its potential is undoubtedly that it has seen the healing hands of the legendary Carl Canedy. Seek, and you will find a perfect slab of concrete and steel.
One could easily be deceived by the delicate beginning of the opener (don’t you just love that about heavy metal?!), Crimson Streets, but be prepared to be proved wrong in 3- 2- 1…. Explode! And that really sets the whole tone of the album, really – dynamic, organic, and full of surprises. There is great attention to detail in the rhythm department, particularly in the drumming of Stephen Albinak, whose energy stands out almost from first listen. The riffs flick between standard gallops to more intricately phrased, progressive parts, and the interplay is quite pleasing, really. Gentle guitar harmonies stray in and out of chunky chops, and they offer up some monster solos too – I can’t honestly imagine any US metal fan not finding something to love here.
Daniel Miller is simply brilliant on vocals, shifting with ease from soft, tender melodies to high-pitched, murderous howls. His voice has that warm, liquid tone that I think really typifies the very best of the style.
From Egypt to Elric, their lyrics touch on some heavy metal standards, but at times lack the poetic poignancy of some of their contemporaries, and I think that is perhaps the only weakness I can (begrudgingly) admit to.
Miller and guitarist Bill McKeown flew the flag for a while, eventually morphing into Museum of Fear, sadly gaining even less recognition than Apollo Ra, and I’m not sure it’s really my cup of tea.
Today is marked by still more ‘last’s – my final day working in Sheffield, and what a way
to go – working alongside one of my best friends, for some of the most prestigious trauma surgeons in the country. And ending an era tonight will be the final Christmas dinner at No.22, and I admit, after the careful planning of Mexicanmas, ribmas, breakfastmas etc, of years past, this year’s convenient-to-oven-cook-mas seems a little rushed. Nonethless, it’s hard not to feel a little festive as I’m sipping on a kir royale, and the camembert bubbles away in the oven, if a little wistful as I catch a glimpse of the ‘Sold’ sign that now adorns the front garden.
But before crashing entirely back to reality, I allow myself to momentarily be transported elsewhere by the tingle of the bass intro to the title track, and the biting snarl of Miller spitting out the missives ‘Never- it’s over- take me- Pariah!’, and I can’t help but start to feel a little sliver of excitement. Perhaps the sunrise over the Wye valley can be as beautiful as the pink haze of a Peak District sunset. Sun to sun, forever more, after all.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: I’m back.