rating icon 7 / 10

Track listing:

01. Cure
02. Rumor of Light
03. Idle Wild
04. Blue Reverie
05. Slow Sour Bleed
06. Wish
07. Glimpse
08. Past Life Persona
09. Crawl Backwards Out of Heaven
10. End to Excess
11. Pale Iris
12. Wave

Stalwarts of a metalcore scene that sorely needs its progressive exponents, ERRA have a winning formula that continues to reap dividends. "Cure" is the Alabama band's sixth studio record, and although the essence of their sound has remained the same throughout their story so far, this latest batch of songs is full of further refinements to the blueprint, and bigger, bolder melodies than anything found on their previous five albums. Immaculately produced, with both heaviness and atmosphere meticulously considered, "Cure" sounds like the gleaming epitome of progressive, tech-inclined metalcore, and a definite step up for a band that arguably deserve more credit and attention than they have received to date.

All of that said, we are still firmly in familiar territory: it's just that ERRA have become so adept at this stuff over the years that they are now crafting songs with much greater finesse than before. Preview singles "Pale Iris", "Blue Reverie" and "Crawl Backwards Out of Heaven" did much to herald the band's matured outlook, and as the infectious pulse of the opening title track confirms, they are reveling in their own self-improvement. "Cure" is a revealing starting point, catchy without being cloying, riffy without being tethered to impenetrable mathematical equations, and atmospheric without overdoing it. When guitarist Jesse Cash has his first clean vocal run in "Rumor of Light", he avoids all the usual pitfalls and sounds, as he should, like a disembodied, genteel presence, amid all the bendy riffs and subverted metalcore tropes. The contrast between clean vocals and gruff growls is such a part of metal's fabric these days, that it is remarkable to find a band that pull it off with such elegance. Frontman J.T. Cavey's vocals are full on and fiery, and generally dictate the mood of these songs, but Cash's interjections are nearly always well-timed and tasteful.

A song like "Idle Wild" could easily resort to hijacked pop sensibilities, but ERRA have nailed the balance between metallic crunch, dreamy, post-everything ambience and big, accessible tunes: Cash's chorus cuts right through the noise, bringing prettiness and heartfelt power to the party, not to mention a slight suggestion of AOR-cum-prog-metal classiness. When ERRA dive more fully into melodic territory, they do so with great conviction: "Blue Reverie" contains plenty of bullish riffs and harsh snarls from Cavey, but its delicate, reverb-shrouded melodic elements are woven in seamlessly, and Cash's angelic croon skims cleanly across the riffs, adding tender humanity to contrast with the song's harder side. On the electro-pop curveball of "Slow Sour Bleed", the guitar work takes a heavy, groove-driven turn, but both vocalists slot neatly into position, as quasi-industrial scree collides with tech-metal bravado and hooks erupting from all available angles. Similarly, "Crawl Backwards Out of Heaven" strays from the metalcore rulebook, via some skewed, minimalist riff-runs and a syncopated, mechanistic groove that owes as much to MESHUGGAH as it does to anything more commercially minded. When a vocal melody does rear its head, it comes from left field, and with a faint nod towards GOJIRA's glowering dissonance.

As polished and precise as it is, "Cure" has an internal warmth and unfussiness that elevate it above the tech-metalcore norm. Enjoyably succinct, it has huge crossover potential and an abundance of big tunes, but not to the detriment of ERRA's bone-crunching fundamentals. If this does not become their most successful album to date, there is no justice.

Author: Dom Lawson
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