Label: Arusha Records
A band that can scratch the same kind of itch as The Dillinger Escape Plan and Tool used to (before TDEP split and Maynard James Keenan was accused of rape) is undoubtedly an interesting proposition on paper. It’s also the kind of elevator pitch that sounds almost impossible to deliver on. And yet returning tech-metal band The Arusha Accord do just that with new EP Juracan. The first of four planned EPs, Juracan sees The Arusha Accord overcome some real adversity to deliver a varied, confident performance, as full of technical wizardry as it is emotion.
That the band’s future was throw into doubt shortly before the recording of Juracan isn’t immediately apparent. From the opening Dillinger-esque chaos of ‘Blackened Heart’, to the hook-filled ‘Vultures’, or the way closer ‘The Dark Pane’ melds Tool-esque spacious, progressive movements with a tech-metal sense of anxiety and tension, at no point does Juracan sound anything other than assured. Which, considering that former vocalist Alex Green left the band last year shortly after their return, is quite an achievement; and Paul Green has stepped up to the vocalist role with excellent results. His vocals are a constant highlight through Juracan, whether he be delivering soulful clean vocals or hardcore-tinged bellows.
Yet if the vocals are a highlight of Juracan, that’s not to play down how strong the songs themselves are. Each one of these five tracks is constantly shifting, rarely settling on a single mood or tone for more than a few moments; and sure, whilst that may be par for the course when it comes to this kind of modern tech-metal, that tries to blend accessible sections with moments of virtuoso musicianship, few records do so as successfully as Juracan. The twists and turns feel natural, flowing into one another as a river does the sea, with the results being both energising and cathartic. Juracan is a record that demands a response, whether emotionally or physically, and it’s hard to imagine listening to it without it resulting in one.
Not that Juracan is perfect; there are sections, such as the opening movement of ‘The Road’, where they wear their influences on their sleeve a bit too plainly. But on the whole, Juracan knows what it wants to be, and succeeds at doing what it sets out to do. Cathartic, energising, and ultimately hopeful, this bodes very well for The Arusha Accord’s return.
Juracan can be pre-ordered on CD and vinyl via the bands’ webstore.