Review Summary: Architects Lite
I was first introduced to Erra via their third studio album entitled "Drift", it really stuck out to me over predecessors such as Phinehas, Wage War and to an extent Northlane in their little Progressive Metalcore bubble. The album was technical, chuggy, but was also very beautiful and emotive. Drift continues to grow on me as it stands, and even after visiting their earlier works I do believe the album is still a high point in the band's discography. They struck quite the balance with weighing JT's monotone vocals and the beautiful musicianship from Jesse and co, intertwining it together constructing songs that had the metalcore edge but also offering tremendously captivating melodies to keep the listener engaged.
With their fantastic offering of Drift, I have very much been anticipating their follow up record, but it saddens me to say that their brand new album "Neon" has failed to grab me in the same way that Drift had and is lackluster in many different areas where Drift wasn't. Starting with the production, it is by far Erra's worst production to date (including the Andromeda EP), the vocals are much higher in the mix than the instrumental, which already strips one of the best qualities that Drift had in the first place. The melodies are nowhere near as captivating as Drift and it results in the JT often getting lost in the waves where there is no strong melody to back him up in the verses.
But they still got Jesse Cash on board so hopefully, he can redeem in some areas right" well.. not really. Jesse's vocals are often quite boring and the high registered vocals singing during the chorus starts to get pretty old when it's done extensively in EVERY SONG. The verse-chorus formula is also stuck to in every song... what the hell happened" Sure in previous Erra records there were songs with apparent verse chorus formula such as Hybrid Earth and the title track of Drift, but there were also songs like The Hypnotist which were quite unpredictable in nature. Every aspect of Neon is predictable from the verses to the choruses with a solo here and there to wrap it up. Unfortunately, however, the guitar solo's are also quite boring and deliver a melody nowhere as strong as previous albums in their discography.
Only songs I can say stands out to me are Ghost of Nothing and Expiate, but even then the verses are pretty bland in Ghost of Nothing and the tapping riffs in Expiate are so low in the mix you can barely hear them. Hyperreality and Monolith are painfully average, all they need is Sam Carter on vocals and they would be Architects songs, but even then they wouldn't be necessarily "good" cause Architects has better production than this. A disappointing outing from Erra and I'm starting to solidify my thoughts that Augment is their peak and they won't make an album as groundbreaking as that was again, although the could, I have my severe doubts.