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ALBUM REVIEW: Drift – Erra

The third studio album in a band’s career is often seen as their defining effort. Some acts fall short of their target, others exceed it with purposeful mastery. Originating from Alabama, progressive metalcore act ERRA have arrived at the precipice of the third full length record, and they have quite the bar to raise from their previous efforts. The band’s second album, Augment, was very well received by the progressive community and saw ERRA gaining a much larger fanbase because of it. Three years on, with a short EP released in late 2014, the band has delivered its new offering, Drift, and many have waited with bated breath for the unveiling of their new material.

Opening with an appropriately progressive lead riff, the album erupts with the band’s signature mixture of low-end grooves, vicious screams, and uplifting clean vocals weaving huge hooks, engaging the listener from the very start. One of the first things noticeable on this record is the gorgeous production. Engineered and mixed by Nick Sampson (BORN OF OSIRIS, POLYPHIA, I AM ABOMINATION), the album is polished to near perfection with a rich and vibrant soundscape, boasting breadth and depth in fathoms. The low end is well defined without being overpowering, capturing the deliciously djenty tone without sacrificing the higher harmonics of the mix. Besides various somewhat gimmicky effects, such as the horrendously nu metal-esque string scratching on Irreversible, the overall sound is incredibly well produced.

ERRA are known for their freeform riffs pushing the music forward towards huge choruses and enormous hooks, and Drift does not disappoint. Taking advantage of an extra string and a lower tuning, the riffs bounce between massive grooves and delightfully technical passages with seamless ease. Unfortunately, Drift offers somewhat less memorable guitarwork than its predecessor, despite remaining a solid piece in and of itself. While still instrumentally challenging, guitarist Jesse Cash’s solos are noticeably devoid of much of the speed and technical prowess displayed on Augment. Instead, he has opted for a far more melodic and progressive style, which certainly matches the backing material.

Progressive metal is tough art to perfect. Many acts push the boundaries too far, others lounge within the monotony of their comfort zone. Drift provides the listener a window into the far less than monotonous soundscape of the very best elements of ERRA’s progressive assault, complete with huge contrasts, soaring highs and punishing lows, all combining in tandem to construct a truly impressive record. There are very few instances marring Drift. Only a lack of memorability with regards to several songs negates the vibrancy and lucidity of the huge auditory landscape provided.

With huge hooks, wildly uplifting highs, and intensely punitive lows, Drift is the third studio album everyone wanted ERRA to make. Drift pushes a lot of boundaries while remaining safely within the signature ERRA bracket of melody and groove. While at times it can seem that the band did not push far enough outside of their comfort zone, Drift’s undeniable listenability quells such complaints. This is yet another bar set by the young progressive metalcore virtuosos. This is yet another example of ERRA broadening horizons for progressive music everywhere. Drift is the third studio album from ERRA, and it’s the album that ERRA deserved.

Rating: 8/10

Erra Drift

Drift is out now via Sumerian Records.

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