Written by: BL on 20/01/2012 00:22:43

It hasn't exactly been making headlines everywhere, but certainly 2011 saw the rise of more and more bands fusing metalcore with a more technical, progressive metal, and a lot of djent-y goodness (I know people dislike this term djent partly thanks to Periphery finally breaking out of the super underground). Bands like Volumes, Elitist, Structures, Northlane are but a few of the newcomers all part of this new movement along with probably one of the latest entry of the year, ERRA. "Impulse" is the debut album for this Alabama five piece. It's remarkably well put together, polished, varied and versatile enough to compete with many similar releases, but the thing I like the best about it is just how different all the influences are that I can make out. ERRA don't just rely on their own style of Meshuggah djent taste, there are little hints of technical death metal, melodic hardcore/metalcore like Misery Signals or For The Fallen Dreams and even tiny bits of post-hardcore in the vein of bands like Saosin and Secret & Whisper (which they actually admit themselves).

Of course I'm not saying that ERRA sounds outright like any of their more unusual influences since their basic style is still progressive metalcore, but ERRA shows off their various influences organically - by that I mean everything blends in surprisingly well without making a blurried mess. The opening song "White Noise" is but a little taste of what ERRA has to offer, it gives off a real spacey vibe with ringing guitars throughout complemented with surprisingly technical but memorable rhythms, but best of all there's some super catchy choruses with the addition of some decent clean vocals. Guitarist Jesse Cash has a soft and high pitched singing style that seems a bit unusual for metalcore of this kind and found more commonly in modern post-hardcore (like the names I've said), which I can certainly dig at least. Having said that not everyone will like his angelic voice since it's certainly a very different feel from lead vocalist Garrison Lee's powerful but harsh and guttural screams. The sheer abrasiveness of the screaming with the clean vocals created an addictive contrast at least for me though, and the instrumentals underneath them are so well constructed as to always make the vocals feel at home - swinging back and forth from gorgeous melodies to utter devastation with ease.

Don't worry about expecting the singing all the time if you aren't into them as I may be, they appear only on certain songs. One of the best songs on the album "Seven" has no singing for example but instead has plenty of good melodic guitars in both leads and rhythms and some nice usage of samples and keyboards. While "Vaalbara" uses decent tempo changes, appropriate amounts of skull bashing heaviness and technical guitar wizardry to impress. On the flipside, tracks like "Heart" and closer "Render The Void" benefit massively from the inclusion of clean vocals because the melodic aspects feels so much more developed alongside just the cool heavy sections - the conclusion on "Render The Void" particularly is one of the defining moments of the album - rising and rising until it fades away into the stars. Elsewhere there's just an abundance of engaging and captivating hooks throughout, whether it being the clever way melodies jump in and out of "Architect" or "Efforescent"'s massive closing portion which is just a delight with lots of tapped guitars. And despite ERRA's best efforts of making "Obscure Words" so punishingly devilish using blast beats, layered screams on top of barrages of cascading riffs, they still manage to squeeze in some enjoyable melodic lead guitar play, it's like they can't stop themselves.

"Impulse" manages to give long time metalcore enthusiasts like me in general a more positive outlook for the future. It's a big record with big sounds, big production, and big on all things I can like but most important of all feels like it's bringing in something a just little bit new (not entirely of course), which I think the metalcore genre desperately needs one way or the other. It helps too that ERRA does all the usual aspects well and keeps unnecessary filler down to a minimum. What I enjoyed the most overall was the intensity of the lows and the heartwarming sensation of the highs not to mention the overall slick technical level of execution of it all. I'd probably hesitate to say it's definitely the best thing I've heard all year round, but it's certainly gets close.

Download: White Noise, Seven, Architect, Render The Void
For the fans of: Periphery, Misery Signals, For The Fallen Dreams, Saosin
Listen: Facebook

Release date 30.11.2011
Tragic Hero Records

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