Erra – Augment

Erra - Augment

I often wonder if Erra is such a favorite of mine because of the way they I first learned of them – a friend posted a promising video for “Omega Children” in a music-sharing group on Facebook. The band’s unique brand of chugging, deep screams, and high-pitched singing quickly caught my attention and that year their debut full-length on Tragic Hero Records, Impulse, became one of my most anticipated records of the year, and even managed to sneak its way onto my end-of year top ten.

It wasn’t for naught, as Impulse had some of the catchiest tracks I’ve heard in technical metalcore to date. Interesting guitar leads and solos, soaring choruses, clever lyrics, and not to mention plenty of good breakdowns. When the band announced a second full-length, the hype machine was quickly up and running at full speed, with many hailing it as the best metalcore album of the year before a single was even released. Now, for a year that gave us a new release from Misery Signals, I was excited yet skeptical. Did Erra deliver?

You sure bet they did. Their second full-length, entitled Augment, is just as its title suggests. It’s Impulse on steroids – everything that made Erra so popular is there, but the band has honed their technical skills as well as exhibiting a more level head, showcasing a more mature aspect of their songwriting skills. The songs are more fleshed out, better structured, and the band played a lot more with their progressive side as well.

They did make some sacrifices, however. While Impulse was catchy and after as few as one listen would have you singing along and bobbing your head, Augment’s strengths all lie in the details – be it the underlying keys in some songs, the jaw-dropping solos in others. The chorus from “Rebirth” is a prime example. When you listen to it, initially it isn’t much. But quickly you find yourself singing it in your head all day.

Despite most the songs having things that set them apart from each other, such as the prominent bass in “Pulse,” the chorus in “Dreamwalkers,” or the gritty, near-deathcore feeling of “Hybrid Earth,” Augment does experience some turbulence towards the end. Since it’s such a long record at over fifty minutes, the last couple of songs, specifically “Spirits Away,” “Prometheus,” and “Crimson” do tend to blend together. By the time the title track “Augment” comes around – a soft interlude, with some light echoing guitar-strumming and ambient synths – and the hard hitting “Dementia” starts, it’s easy to lose interest in what you’re hearing. However, “Dementia” manages to be one of the faster and catchier songs, with some furious guitar riffing and another catchy chorus. Despite the seven minute length it never becomes tedious, breaking into an interlude halfway through and segueing into a guitar solo. The track closes with epic chanting, bringing Augment to a halt.

Lyric-wise, Augment is similar to Impulse, with songs detailing cosmic stories, reflections about our current state as human beings, and being generally introspective, if not a little pretentious with their pseudo-intellectualism. Erra however, can be forgiven as the band members do seem well informed about their lyrical content.

All in all, Augment isn’t so much an improvement over the band’s previous record as an addendum – it’s a different chapter in Erra’s story, which up until now has been filled with consistent, catchy, and instrumentally sound albums and tracks. Augment does nothing if not prove that Erra has firmly cemented themselves as the golden child of this generation’s brand of metalcore.

8/10

Here’s the iTunes link for the album if you feel the need to buy it! By all means, support the artist if you like what you read/hear!

https://itunes.apple.com/nl/album/augment/id714446770

Written by: Gabriel Magela Pio – November 2nd, 2013

SECOND OPINION

The chug is definitely strong with this band, but instead of making sure their chugs are as mindless as possible to cater to an audience just as mindless, Erra compliments their guitarwork with catchy leads and stunning solos. Clean vocalist Jesse Cash reminds me of Periphery’s Spencer Sotelo at times, which is by no means a bad thing in my book. His soaring choruses bring the songs to a higher level. I also feel that this album is stronger than their debut. The songs benefit from better writing and it seems that all the musicians have progressed a lot in the time between the two albums.

However, there is one major flaw for me that restricts the album from getting an incredibly high mark; versatility between songs. The songs feel samey. Sure, there are a few standout songs like opener Alpha Seed, deathcore-ish Hybrid Earth and floaty Spirits Away, but a lot of songs and passages blend in with each other and it doesn’t do this genre of music any good. I think a lot of it has to do with the usage of chords; your combination of chords might be amazing, if you use them more than twice in your catalog, even the best combination of chords will get stale.  The songs that do standout are incredibly good, however, and they make it that this album gets the score it gets from me.

7.5/10

Written by: Job van Dongen – November 6th, 2013

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