Review Summary: Erra’s debut LP is firmly rooted in its influences, but still impressive in its own right.
Metalcore has never been a tranquil genre to say the least, and nowhere is that more apparent than on Erra’s Impulse
. The album’s most striking feature is its use of contrast, both atmospherically and musically. Dynamic soundscapes, both vocally and instrumentally, define this release. Frantically racing from melody to discord, Erra’s style is best characterized by chaos, much like the Babylonian God of pestilence and mayhem that is their namesake.
The album’s opener, "White Noise", serves as an accessible entry point for the pandemonium to come. It also exemplifies Erra’s style: heavy riff-driven metalcore that would be relatively standard if not for the inclusion of high-pitched clean vocals and ethereal melodies to offset it. While they’ve essentially only applied the ‘djent’ style pioneered by bands like Meshuggah
and more recently Born of Osiris
(except trading synth for clean vocals), Erra are too talented to be considered derivative.
While their formula isn’t exactly unheard of, the band’s technical prowess is undeniable, and their superior songwriting easily distinguishes themselves from their peers. Even for metalcore, Erra are f!@#king extreme. Where other bands would shy away from relying too heavily on clean vocals or melodic interludes, Erra fearlessly embraces dynamics to ferocious effect. Where other bands would succumb to gimmicky elements, Erra casually tosses in digressive interludes mid-song ("Heart"), and arpeggios on piano ("Obscure Words"). One would be hard-pressed to find any prolonged span of homogenous sound without some amount of conscious modulation.
However, that’s not to say Impulse
isn’t cohesive. Erra definitely loves their disorder and experimentation, but their specific blend of winding riffs and heavy chugs is so striking that the album functions very well as a whole.
For a young band, Erra’s sound is surprisingly fluid, but the high production value that makes the album sound so crisp also highlights its greatest weakness. The clean vocals, while effective, absolutely exude auto-tune, and are sure to be their most divisive feature. Their technical prowess, while impressive, wears on, and some songs just aren’t as well-executed as others.