Written by: TL on 11/06/2016 13:40:32

A record that's gone a bit overdue for a review is "Drift", the third full-length from Alabama progressive metalcore group ERRA, whose last album "Augment" from 2013 was greatly favoured by a now-retired writer of ours. Since that time, the group has had some instability on the position of screaming vocalist, yet are for now moving forward with J.T. Cavey who joined the group shortly before the April release of "Drift".

On "Augment" the band presented a very dualistic sound, highly telling of their love for bands as different as Misery Signals and Saosin, ye making for an at times somewhat sharply divided back and forth between a heavy metalcore sound and a more high-strung melodious side: Fronted by guitarist and clean singer Jesse Cash, whose vocals bear a strong resemblance to ex-Saosin singer Cove Reber and Conditions frontman Brandon Roundtree. He sings with a high and at time nicely throat-scraping tone, which does, however, also get a bit on the shrill side at times, overall making his style comparable to our local scene's Jesper Gün (of the band Ghost Iris).

To ERRA's credit, "Drift" showcases an improvement on their part in making their ideas mesh together much more organically, while the creativity in their guitar work goes a long way to display diversity and help the ten songs on offer stand apart from each other. The spectrum of the expression is defined nice and early with the opener "Luminesce" and the following "Irreversible". The former channels a very modern, proggy and groovy sound, in which the best aspect is perhaps that it feels measured and confident in its tempo: Allowing the musicianship to be complex enough to impress, yet not so excessive as to make things blur together in too much guitar wankery. Cash's vocals take the lead here, with Cavey's mid-to-low growling complimenting him nicely from a minor role, opting out of any too obvious verse/chorus patterns you might otherwise have feared. And then immediately on the following "Irreversible", the roles reverse as the heavier side of the band gets some time to show itself, full of guitar notes that slide downwards menacingly and small robotic-sounding squeals and muted strumming bits. Here things lean a bit towards the eerily futuristic soundscapes that fans of the genre might know from a band like Shreddy Krueger.

Across the following eight tracks, ERRA move between these two poles of their sound while consistently giving off a balanced and almost laid-back progressive feeling which is rather easy on the ears for such otherwise heavy music. Fans of the genre should thus welcome this record with open arms, yet it does lack a bit of something before you can say it sounds like the band has more obvious wider breakthrough potential. Cash's singing voice is the kind that post-hardcore fans, in particular, will be used to, but as mentioned the strain in his notes can grate on the ears a bit in the long run, and make you wonder how well they can be pulled off in real life. And more importantly, there aren't truly those standout vocal melodies that would help create those moments of payoff that do that extra bit to win you over resoundingly as a listener. The triplet of "Orchid", "Drift" and "Sleeper" show some potential in this department, but for the record at large, it's the guitar playing that does the brunt of the work towards keeping your listening engaged.

The above being said, though, "Drift" remains an enjoyable effort from the band, mainly because it delivers such delicious instrumentation throughout, without ever sounding too try hard or unnecessarily excessive.


Download: Orchid, Drift, Sleeper
For The Fans Of: Periphery, Ghost Iris, Shreddy Krueger, Intervals

Release date 08.04.2016
Sumerian Records

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