Erra just released their fourth album ‘Neon’. It’s the second album that has JT Cavey on vocals and it builds on the foundation they laid with ‘Drift’. Plain and simple, this album is great. It might even be considered the album of the year for some people, especially if it’s the first time they’ve listened to Erra.
That being said, I’m kind of torn about how I feel. On one hand, this is extremely enjoyable to listen to. It’s really pretty and even the heavy parts aren’t very harsh; plus, there’s a nice mix of down-tuned guitars with upbeat riffs and drum patterns. “Hyperreality” is a perfect example of a song that sounds happy and is nice to listen to.
You can tell this is a band that has matured and figured out how to connect everything they want to do in a song. Each one has a vision and they execute it perfectly, especially when it comes to the atmosphere. I’m also a fan of Jesse Cash’s slightly toned down vocals; having them not be as high pitched helps him blend together with JT’s vocals a lot better than the huge contrast he used to have with Garrison Lee.
On the other hand, this new style doesn’t live up to some of the most important elements of ‘Augment’ and doesn’t push any important boundaries. JT’s presence seems to have signaled a shift away from some of the band’s more progressive tendencies and refocused the emphasis on groovy sections. The result is a band that is a bit more straight-forward with their approach and the loss of that nuance is disappointing.
I love JT Cavey, but if I’m being honest, I think the change may have to do with the fact that he has absolutely no range. He sounds good here and this album is great for what it is, but 90% of his vocals are fillers while the rest of the band shreds until Jesse comes in to bless the listeners with his angelic cleans. His screams just don’t have the heaviness that Garrison Lee had and that drastically reduces the entire band’s range. ‘Neon’ and ‘Drift’ are both narrower in scope and can’t cover as much ground simply because the heavier range is now inaccessible.
If you listen to old Erra you’ll realize what this band sounds like when they have a powerful screamer and I just can’t help but feel like JT is a crutch that the rest of the band has to play around. They would be so much more dynamic, like on the level of Oceans Ate Alaska, if they had a screamer with some range.
My favorite song is probably “Breach”; it has atmospheric interludes, heavy breakdowns, great riffs, a healthy amount of djent, and Jesse’s incredible cleans.