What some bands have successfully managed to do is blend in melodic instrumentation and vocals into a generally heavier genre. A Day To Remember did it with pop punk and hardcore and met with success and I think Erra can be the next step, taking tech-metal/melodic hardcore/ whatever-you-want-to-call-it into a more accessible domain.
Augment has every piece of an album you can ask for and more. They are not exploring any new realms of music in terms of instrumentation, but their implementation is top notch. Starting with "Alpha Seed" (which was the first song I had heard by them) opens the album with a very welcoming riff with a familiar trip around the toms leading into a heavier vocal bit than expected. This sets the tone for the album as you can tell there will be impressive guitar parts, heavy vocals, and melodic relief. This chorus specifically I find myself singing day in and day out.
"Pulse" follows and comes in with a more typical sounding hardcore sound. The dueling screams add a great dynamic which few bands tend to really get right. Then after the vocal focus the song drops into a bass and piano interlude, leading into a unique section at the end which stresses the alternating tempo chugging that I have come to love in this style of music. These peaceful interludes will continue throughout the album and provide some relaxing moments and additional color to the album.
The next several songs will have a mix of the factors I've discussed with some solos that are more satisfying than an In-N-Out Burger with added avocado (Yeah, try it sometime!), specifically on "Hybrid Earth".The intro to "Rebirth" is particularly one of my favorite openings I have encountered. The keys open with a heavenly and atmospheric tone before diving into a techie riff over some anticipatory chugging. These 22 seconds sum up why I begun to love Erra. Not to take away from the rest of the song, but the start is just fantastic. The solo at 3:46 also is just spot on.
Again, the album continues with its brilliant fusion of synths and guitar riffs laden with ball dropping chugging. I don't want to leave out a comment about the incredible drumming of Alex Ballew. Mostly because not enough people give enough respect to drummers who can make or break a band in this genre, which stresses changing double bass patterns and inordinate amounts of tom fills. Is he a Matt Greiner? No, at least not yet. But who is?
Now to the title track, "Augment". A beautiful interlude to say the least. The way the effects work with the strumming, occasionally hitting harmonics, and taking advantage of the reverb is angelic. A perfect lead in to the last track, and one of my favorite tracks, "Dementia".
"Dementia" closes the album well; summing up, at least instrumentally, the album as a whole. They place the colorful synths and singing well between vigorous riffs. Then they blow my mind from 2:45 on with musical progressions that make my mouth water (sorry for all of the taste metaphors) leading into a outro that once again leaves you with a celestial feel but not unsatisfied.
Anyway, as a whole the album is great as a whole and has a few AMAZING tracks. I highly recommend taking a listen, and I look forward to hearing the next album (and truthfully, the previous album, which I have not heard). Heavy, off-and-on-again tempo chugging, melodic vocals, airy synths, and endorphin raising riffs provide a phenomenal listen.