Hyperreality: Progressive metallers Erra stun on 4th full-length, “Neon”

One of the most anticipated records in progressive metal this year has to be Erra’s 4th full-length, Neon. The Alabama band, signed to Sumerian Records, has been on a strong upward trajectory ever since their impressive debut album Impulse hit the airwaves in 2011. While the band has certainly evolved since then, is it for the better? The answer is a resounding YES.

Vocalist JT Cavey seems much more comfortable on this album than he was on Drift. While criticisms about his performance on previous album Drift seemed to abound, they’re all but rectified here. His powerful mid-range vocals lead the heavier tracks like “Monolith” and “Valhalla”, doing so in impressive fashion. Any fan of his short time in Texas In July should be very intrigued by how much his vocals have developed in a few years.

“Ghost Of Nothing” contains an infectious, ringing melodic riff that pops up multiple times in the song, making it a focus track. “Valhalla” will appeal to fans of the band’s older sound, as it contains both the heaviness and melody that make Erra such a special group.

Vocalist/guitarist Jesse Cash is really in the zone here, especially on the 2nd half of the record. Take a track like “Unify”, for instance. Its melodies are reminiscent of the Impulse days, but unlike that record, Jesse’s vocals are far more mature and developed. Drummer Alex Ballew provides a nice backbone for the band as well, and it’s the heavier, more frantic tracks where he stands out, as his drum fills power “Monolith” and “Valhalla”.

Neon succeeds because it’s both immediate, as well as expansive. While there’s nothing like “Dementia” or “The Hypnotist” here as far as lengthy tracks, Neon is another solid, often spectacular Erra record. Highly recommended.