In just two years, the busy hardcore bees in Wilkes-Barre’s Ervasa have already produced four EPs – the latest of which is “Awakening.” In a short history that’s seen the band diversify their musical portfolio with everything from an infectious metalcore cover of Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts The Most,” and a gorgeous acoustic offering late last year, Ervasa’s work ethic is admirable, and their songwriting acumen wisely challenges genre stereotype. On “Awakening,” the band takes its music on further flights of fancy with layered atmosphere, hooks for days, and unfeigned emotion that burns white hot.
With a total of six tracks, the EP format works well for “Awakening.” It leaves the listener wanting more, with no room for filler – you are simply slammed into a lucid dreamstate by the sheer metallic ambiance of each tune. Borrowing the heavy attack of bands like The Devil Wears Prada, and melding the melodic presence of acts like The Amity Affliction, Ervasa is easily lumped into a post-hardcore-type label, yet they’ve got much more to offer than your typical Warped Tour side-stage fare.
Opening with the instrumental intro/title track, featuring a volume swell of guitar noise, chilling, mournful piano simplicity, and delicate percussion, it’s obvious the band is keen on arrangement. Seguing into “Console Me,” with equally, almost orchestral-like aura, the track soon flares up into extreme staccato guitar riffing and war-nerve vocal catharsis with a defiant “I won’t let it end this way.” The dual vocal role between Tony Vaitsopoulos and Derek Nowak is effective, with clean passages reminiscent of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, and the growling angst of August Burns Red’s Jake Luhrs.
“Belong” treads the melancholy a bit heavier, with guitar undulation akin to Sevendust’s best, and quick electronic samples slicing through the thickness of the track’s insistence like a dagger. The vocal line “all of us just want to belong, we understand what we did wrong” hits hard, and is repeated like a ruthless anthem for anyone feeling a sense of alienation. “Some Things Don’t Change” is a prime example of the songwriting chops this band has. The track, featuring guest vocals from Ashley Fox, could easily translate into radio-friendly pop, yet contains just the right amount of despondency to wring out of two broken hearts, building them back up into a redeeming union.
Closer “Stand Your Ground” is the heaviest track, pure anger boiling over into blind rage with the very thought of being pushed around not an option – rhythms so tight they’re almost mechanical. The song could easily identify with a millennial generation scorned.
With finessed sincerity in every riff, and unbreakable loyalty to a progressive song structure, Ervasa defies the post-hardcore mold with a crossover appeal and magnetic charm that can only be achieved through an insightful sense of musicianship.
Mark Uricheck is a Weekender correspondent who writes weekly CD reviews. Reach Weekender at email@example.com