Erra has always been one of my favorite metalcore bands out there. When people talk about their favorites and mention the popular groups in this genre, I still have to suggest Erra for people to listen to. With the band’s change in sound and frontmen with their last record, Drift, I got reinvigorated by these changes. The previous record focuses more on melody and different sounds rather than breakdowns. The band has always gone out of their way to do more instrumentally than breakdown after breakdown, but this was a new step towards setting themselves apart from the rest of the metalcore scene. Now we got Neon, which continues the growth in this new evolution of the band.
Various sounds have experimented with instrumentally throughout the record, a staple in Erra’s sound. Most of the songs have a wide dynamic range in sounds that kept me interested throughout. Just like Drift, rhymic riffs, groovy bass lines, and nice beats from the drumming take the lead instead of breakdowns. The first two records in the band’s career had excellent melodic moments, but too many breakdowns sounded similar, especially on Augment. Here we songs that have more identity and more interesting focus. Don’t worry fans, there are still heavy breakdowns. Everything goes low in tone and is perfect to bang your head to.
With a lot of metalcore, the mix of screaming and clean singing needs to be right. Erra strikes a balance between heavy and somber unlike most bands in the genre. Jesse Cash’s cleans are beautiful along with his range. He can go soft or put in some powerful passion in his voice. Like every Erra record, he steals the show regarding vocals. JT is quite good as always. However, unlike previous vocalists, he does not utilize his range that much. Previously we would hear mid-range screams along with brutal lows and screeching highs. JT just sticks to the same mid-range sound throughout the entire record, just like Drift. I know he has the range, and I would love to hear him experiment with his voice. He keeps up with the melody and does his job, but a lot is missing from his parts. How these two vocalists team up is spectacular, especially on this album. Their voices come together wonderfully with interesting dynamics between the two.
Lyrics have always been excellent, and we can see the quality is still there. With each vocalist having powerful moments. In the mighty and imagery-filled Signal Fire one lyric says, “This bond could not be conceived without affection and faith to believe.” While in the emotional Expiate, the first verse ends with, “Where my thoughts are not friendly nor hopeful/This weak mind and body crumble.” The album is full of emotion and will hit hard with any metalhead. The lyrics have detailed imagery while having more ominous moments to let the listener think about what the song is saying. Erra has always had that mixture of detail and ambiguity.
I really do like the record, with each song standing firm on its own to the point that any song can be a single. Breach, the first song off the album, is one of the fastest and heaviest songs here. Then you can a somber ending with Ultimata. With everything in the middle having a mix of being melodic, technical, beautiful, or blunt with heaviness.
The two main issues would be JT lacking in expressing any range and the feeling that the album leans too much on the last record. While many elements are improved, and growth is shown, the record at times feels a little too close to Drift.
All in all, Erra have knocked out another great album for die-hard fans. Each song is great and stands on its own to be single material. On top of that, the album has a beautiful cover, which is always a big bonus for any solid album. With each album release, the band has room to grow in popularity and musical skill. Each member comes together to make some of the best metalcore and at times branches out of the metalcore shell by the focus being outside of constant breakdowns. This is a band I always recommend to people.
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Image via Sumerian Records/Erra