For a band that’s been plagued by a number of member changes over the past two years, Erra have still been making quite an impressive headway into metalcore’s masses. They’ve gotten to tour with bands that have unquestionably influenced their sound, picked up plenty of fans of their own, and have landed themselves on one of the most buzz-worthy metal labels out there at the moment. Now with their first Sumerian Records LP and new frontman JT Cavey (Texas in July), the band has returned with Drift, which is unquestionably their most accessible batch of songs to date. While on the surface this is not a complete shift in style for the band, Drift feels like it’s lost some touch with what made people take notice of the band in the first place.
As mentioned earlier, this album is the most “radio friendly” material that the band has ever put out, mostly due to the fact that the band have come to rely on choruses more than ever before. While they were certainly prevalent on Augment, they never felt like the core (pun intended) aspect of Erra’s identity. The chorus is calling the shots now though, make no mistake. Damn near every song on the album spends what seems like half of the track with repeated clean vocal passages and chanting gang vocals that are tailor-made for a live setting. Thankfully the album opens up into some much more expansive musical ideas in the album’s last three tracks, but a lot of Drift’s material feels entirely too safe to separate them from countless other metalcore bands. In 2016, how many more vocalists that sound way too much like Aaron Gillespie do we really need?
Maybe it’s the fact that guitarist Alan Rigdon isn’t in the band anymore, but Drift also feels like the tempos have been dialed back a substantial bit from their past efforts. Tracks like “The Hypnotist” and “Continuum” are really where Erra feels like they’re onto something, giving the album a much needed kick in the pants with its increased energy and technicality, but these moments are rare within the entirety of the LP. Once you’ve heard the Warped-Tour-ready choruses of “Luminesce” and “Skyline,” you’ll probably be able to pick up on where things are going from here. The album’s title track is probably the strongest cut from this, however, and is backed almost flawlessly with Erra’s new-found affinity for entrancing tapping riffs.
Drift is never offensive and it’s never amateur. It’s just way too goddamn benign.