Album Review: ERRA Drift
I've always viewed metalcore as one of the genres that suffered from pigeonholing the most. But in recent years, many key groups from the -core genres have turned to experimentation and exploration to avoid furthering this pattern. Predictable breakdowns and cringey choruses have shifted to something more progressive and of holding depth.
When the group teased the album with the first single, "Drift," I was very taken aback. The intro guitar work was nowhere near anything I had heard from them before and the creativity didn't stop there. I'll admit the building verses and chorus leaned close to familiar Erra territory, but was impressively all sewn together with an astonishing aura of lead guitar and production. I also don't prescribe to this contagious notion that has plagued the Youtube comments in which many fans are not so welcoming of the new vocalist. In my opinion, JT Cavey fits with both the heavy and melodic side of Erra, even in the live setting.
"Luminesce," the second single equally holds a similar aesthetic regarding the proggy leads and overarching focus on establishing a catchy chorus. Even before consuming the rest of the album, it becomes obvious the direction the group has taken is mostly towards the melodic side of the spectrum. In practically every past release, the harsh vocals were the leading force, however Jesse Cash's cleans dominate on almost all ten tracks presented here. As usual, statements like "I miss the old Erra sound" are to be expected when a stylistic transformation occurs. Fortunately, with the departure of some followers, comes the attraction of others.
A few tracks featured are likely to be shoulder shrugs for the basic Sumerian Records demographic, yet the dynamic flow in these pieces are far more mature than past material, going down the path of recent Textures or Periphery output. When Veil of Maya added cleans to their latest LP, Matriarch, the compositions felt too close to pop music. On the contrary, the vocal melodies executed here work for the better. I'm unsure to the source of this musical shift, but a fair share of responsibility likely rests on the shoulders of the production. Known for work with I See Stars and Miss May I, producer Nick Sampson shapes these compositions to possess both heavy characteristics and radio-friendly accessibility.
Worthy of praise, "Hourglass" and "Orchid" showcase the polarity between Cavey and Cash where "Skyline" emphasizes the latter mentioned vocalist's expanded range. The majority of "Irreversible" at first appeared a bit bland, but the guitar experimentation has After the Burial attention-grabbing qualities and pulls the track out of the run-of-the-mill realm. Although the remaining segment of the record has yet to completely win me over, the relationship between the two vocal styles are furthered resulting in an enjoyable conclusion.
Overall, I view Erra as a somewhat young band with their discography slowly building and member structure hopefully concrete at this point, however this album can be best categorized as a transitional record. In comparison to past releases, it is undeniable that this is their softest, nonetheless, the varied hooks and diversity allow for a flourishing maturity. Drift embodies the progressive, modern movement in the current metalcore scene. While not fully letting go of past elements, the musicalities established on the LP are sincerely a representation of the genre's narrow parameters being pushed outward.