Ya gotta love it when a friend turns you on to a great band that you wind up becoming a huge fan of, right? That’s what happened to me with ERRA. My buddy Tom shared them with me three years ago and it was love at first listen. I also got to see them live that year at Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas, one of the most unusual gigs I’ve ever been to, but mostly due to the setting, not the band. They were spot-on! Anyway, later on in 2013 they released Augment, their second LP and it was damn near flawless. The balance between guttural and clean vocals was more even, and they expanded their sound in different directions, making it one of my top releases of the year.
So now here we are two and a half years later and new disc Drift is out as we speak. Their third album and first for Sumerian Records, I think this is a match made in Heaven. Once again we see the band shifting a bit stylistically, as there are more ethereal and dream-like tones to the guitars this time around. But when they lower the heavy boom they do it with a vengeance. Guitarist/clean vocalist Jesse Cash sounds more energized and vibrant than ever, and if that wasn’t enough, the addition of new lead vocalist J.T. Cavey (ex-TEXAS IN JULY) takes the angry parts and makes them more Hulk-like than anything else. I was a BIG fan of TIJ with him in it, so this made me super-happy!
Another change is Sean Price switching from bass duties to guitar, and he and Jesse put together some riffs and patterns that wrap around each other and enhance the songs. A perfect example of this is my favorite, “Orchid”. Drummer Alex Ballew employs his usual off-times and the guitars go up, down, and all around him, like a musical kaleidoscope. The last 30 seconds make up one of the finest pieces of music I’ve heard all year. This bleeds right into the melodic opening of title track “Drift”, and then Cavey releases the Kraken while Cash and Price coax otherworldly sounds from their fretboards.
Opener “Luminescence”, with its spacey opening gave me immediate pause, but not for anything bad or negative. I was just so intrigued I couldn’t move till I saw where we were going. There is a really cool tapping thing happening throughout and the chorus is big, I mean BIG. This serves as the perfect opening statement for this new chapter of ERRA. I was also quite taken with “Irreversible”, a heavy-on-the-breakdowns affair but the good breakdowns, not the annoying mallcore ones, thank the Gods. Cash really reaches for the stars with his singing on this tune. The band oozes pure venom during “Sleeper” and it simply must be played live on all future tours.
Once again I found myself caught up in the guitars with “Safehaven” another immediate standout. And on the vocal front the give and take between growls and cleans made for an interesting tug-of-war. Speaking of clean, “Skyline” has some gorgeous guitar lines on the verses and heavy chugs on the refrain. This one’s gonna be a hit, methinks. Closing track “The Hypnotist” is mostly Cavey’s vehicle with Cash nailing it on the hooks. These two make a terrific team, they really do. The solo is magnificent, also. The bottom line is this: ERRA have once again outdone themselves with Drift. They just keep getting better and better and I need to see them live again YESTERDAY!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM