Review || Erra - "Erra"

Alabama metalcore heroes Erra have returned. The band is releasing their fifth, self-titled album, on March 19 2021 via UNFD.

Erra is the absolute MVP of 2021 and I say that fully consciously -it's still March and the quintet is about to drop the album of the year. You know that I usually don't trust singles but in this case I made an exception. All songs that preceeded the release of the album were magnificent (especially "Scorpion Hymn"). Now, I'll be the first to admit that my relationship with Erra has been on an on-and-off basis for a few years now, but I am somewhat familiar with their sound -and I most certainly do remember seeing them with Northlane back in 2017 and leaving the venue very impressed with what I had witnessed. With this album, I was honestly floored.

"Erra" is complex but beautifully built. Its 12 tracks are the epitome of progressive metalcore with djenty twists and turns and, while it appears to draw influences from trailblazers in their scene (older Northlane I'd say more notably), the instrumentation is original and nuanced in a way that it can stand as an autonomous entity. Composition-wise, the potential of the band has definitely evolved and expanded, and they are now able to add even more intricate elements to their sound, which become more noticeable as the listener keeps replaying the album. I know that all albums are supposed to be an accumulation of the best attributes of an artist at a given time, but seriously, Erra has artfully put together an abundance of creativity with undeniable songwriting abilities and a lot of talent, packing the release with extreme qualities; super catchy clean singing, intense screams, progressive transitions, lo-fi synths to create volume, sturdy basslines, killer drumwork, ballsy riffs, explosive breakdowns, all while keeping a melodic balance in everything. 

The production is incredibly well-rounded and I think what stands out the most to me are primarily certain components within the songs; the intro riff to "Gungrave" is how industrial metal would sound projected through a djent prism, "Divisionary" slaps hard with those Periphery-esque technicalities which further accentuate the harmonies on top, the double bass drum on "House Of Glass" and the almost thrashy riffage, and of course the power-ballad-esque idiosyncrasy of "Vanish Canvas" and "Memory Fiction", which doesn't diminish the intensity or quality of the songs in any way. 

Finally, the inspirational/lyrical concept behind the songs is almost dystopian and quite open to interpretation. Still, it wouldn't be hard to pinpoint specific criticisms on the current state of the world and the human condition per se, nor would it be easy to ignore particular symptoms of certain conditions. The language barrier keeps me from understanding 100% of the lyrics that haven't been made available yet but I do understand the emotional depth of some of the compositions, and therefore I purposely refrain from digging deeper.

Overall, "Erra" is phenomenal; its ingenuity shines and the listener is able to follow through consistently without growing bored. It very brilliantly mirrors who Erra has grown into as musicians in the recent years and what they want to achieve. Frankly, if there's an album the -core scene should be copying for the next ten years, it's definitely this one.

10/10 (is this even a question?)

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