Review Summary: Almost there but not quite...
was an incredibly organic album. Little, fragmented leads would build and blossom into beautiful guitar solos. The clean sections would appear from nowhere and yet still sound as in perfect sync with the rest of the music. The contrasts between rhythmic chugging and more melodic playing always sounded well-balanced and never boring. Overall the album sounded like one cohesive whole. It was a beautiful exercise in controlled chaos.
Then something was lost. Whether it was the departure of guitarist and other main songwriter Alan Rigdon, Jesse Cash taking over songwriting duties or the move to Sumerian Records, the band went through a metamorphosis. When Drift
was released, fans could tell a piece was missing. The consensus being that the sound had been streamlined towards catchiness and commercialism. What they'd lost in the process was the organic sound, spontaneity and controlled chaos that made the first two records so captivating. On their fifth album thankfully some of that old magic has finally returned.
The first two things that are noticeable are that the production is less polished. The mix places the vocals front and centre with the rest of the instruments revolving around them. Consequently, the album feels very vocal driven, but not at the expense of the other instruments. The lack of extra polish makes it feel as if the instruments are bleeding into one other in the more chaotic, texturally interesting sections. It brings a feeling of organic chaos and atmosphere that has been missing from the last two records.
To return to the vocal driven aspect of this album though this is also down to the fact that both vocalists have stepped up in a big way. JT Cavey sounds more forceful and displays greater range than ever before. Jesse too sounds less relaxed and more like he's pushing himself again, just like on Augment
. The vocal hooks overall feel more engaging and dramatic like earlier albums. This really characterises this album; there's a real sense of drama and energy to this album that wasn't present in the last two and the sound feels revitalised because of it. For the first time in a while Erra sound like Erra again.
That being said this album isn't without its faults. For all the interesting textures that Jesse uses in his guitar playing, as well as a return to contrasting melody and aggression against one another again, his riff writing and arrangement lack the nuance of Alan Rigdon's songwriting and more often than not falls into djent cliches (see Snowblood
for examples). This renders the album more homogenous than previous efforts with a good level of quality maintained throughout but with no real standouts to set this album apart, even from the previous two.
Make no mistake, though, this is a return to form, but there's still work that needs to be done for the band to ascend to further heights.