Ten years ago, Erra launched released their debut album Impulse, and now are set to issue their fifth full-length release on March 19th, their first to come on UNFD. Launching with a wave of djent influenced metalcore of the time, their sound has remained true within the broader metalcore genre throughout their career with a steady progression towards more progressive elements as they have evolved and carved out their unique space.
With five tracks released in advance of the album there’s a danger of being over-familiar with the album on first experience, and with the opener “Snowblood” having been out for around six months now, it’s likely a pre-trodden pathway into Erra for many listeners. However, into track two “Gungrave” there’s a brand new, previously unheard piece of music and one of the finest of their finest songs ever. There’s some of the most stunning riff work of Jesse Cash’s already abundant catalogue, and the interplay between Cash’s hallmark style and Sean Price on this track is likely to be a new benchmark for progressive metalcore. Staying true to the broader genre’s traditions, the visceral screams of “Catatonic, Emaciated, All this pain that you have created” from vocalist J.T. Cavey (on his third and finest performance with the band) lead into one of many crushing breakdowns on the album.
So, riffs, screams and breakdowns. A metalcore fan unfamiliar with Erra would yet to be too tempted to dive into the band as a unique entity by this description at this point, despite the fact that each of these are executed as flawlessly as any members of the genre at their finest. It’s progressing through Erra that the band increasingly reveal their trump card, and what’s caused them to refer to their own style as “melodic-ambient” in the past.
“Shadow Autonomous” has a generally ‘softer’ sound to it in places with Cash and Cavey (a newer development on this album) trading clean vocals throughout much of the track’s length, to the effect that it hits as hard as reaching ‘ballads’ like “The End of Heartache” or “Arms of Sorrow” from either of genre legends Killswitch Engage’s strongest albums. The chorus of ‘Glimpse of light comes shining through this waking dream’ is ripe for a deafening level of singing along for a crowd when live music returns again, and it’s music of this quality that makes one yearn for it all the more.
Moving through the back half of the record, there’s a plethora of other tracks sitting towards the top of the band’s creations to date. “Scorpion Hymn” showcases the groove of founding member Alex Ballew on drums locked in with Conor Hesse’s work on bass, whilst Cavey exercises his vocal range of both harsh and clean over the top. Album closer “Memory Fiction” marries exclusively clean vocals with clean and technical riffing that wouldn’t be out of place in an instrumental artist such as Polyphia or Chon. Reviewing the notes on the album, it’s no surprise to see Grammy-nominated Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland on recording, mixing, and mastering duties, with every note and flourish shining through with a sound that’s as dynamic as the band’s writing itself.
Reaching the end of the album’s generous running length, you’re still left wanting more of Erra’s gut-punching heaviness, poignant lyrics and soaring choruses to hear. Thanks to its variety though, it’s a record that you can immediately flip back over and listen to all over again and find something new each time. Erra is a triumph, and an album worth of wearing the exceptional band’s name.
Erra Track Listing:
04. House of Glass
05. Shadow Autonomous
06. Electric Twilight
07. Scorpion Hymn
08. Lunar Halo
09. Vanish Canvas
12. Memory Fiction
Run Time: 53:32
Record Label: UNFD
Release Date: March 19, 2021