Heavy music can elicit a trance. Amidst the tension between extremes, it’s easy to lie back and float along the aural currents. Erra activate that sensation on their third full-length album and first for Sumerian Records the appropriately titled, Drift. The Birmingham, Alabama quartet—JT Cavey [vocals], Jesse Cash [guitar, vocals], Alex Ballew [drums], and Sean Price [guitar]—invite everyone to join them inside this sonic swell.
"The album title Drift represents what we feel to be a suitable state of mind when you're listening to the album,” says Jesse.
Crash landing at a nexus between heavy metal, progressive, and alternative, the group entranced audiences with 2013’s Augment, which impressively bowed at #1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums Chart. They’d tour alongside the likes of August Burns Red, Born of Osiris, TesseracT, and many others, building a devout fan base and receiving praise from Guitar World, Revolver, Alternative Press, and more. In 2015, the band headed to a Michigan studio with producer Nick Sampson [Miss May I, Born of Osiris, I See Stars] in order to begin work on what would become Drift.
However, the process took an unexpected turn when previous vocalist, Ian Eubanks injured his voice a few weeks into the sessions.
"It was extremely stressful and difficult," explains Jesse. "Ian's a very good friend of ours. He knew the limitations of his voice though, and understood why the band had to make the necessary change. The departure was an amicable one."
Enter JT Cavey. Erra toured with JT while he fronted Texas In July, and they’d maintained a friendship since. After two months of learning the songs, Jesse and JT returned to the studio to finish tracking vocals. Now, the finished product reflects a marked evolution for the musicians. This time around, they utilized seven-string guitars for the bulk of recording. Nodding to an expanded palette of influences such as Deftones and Circa Survive, they embraced a deeper melodic sensibility and matched the groove to a slower tempo. Simultaneously, there’s no shortage of the intense riffing and celestial shredding that defined their initial attack.
“It’s still Erra, but it’s a little different,” Jesse goes on. “It's more reflective of the evolution of our personal tastes and the different types of music we listen to."
The opener “Luminesce” juxtaposes a spacey hum with a consistent fret tapping and seesawing chug punctuated by a bright refrain. “It’s about the ups and downs of touring,” he says. “You’re caught wondering whether you feel more at home when you’re on tour, or you feel more at home when you’re home. The song doesn’t resolve the question, but it discusses how hard it is to be on the road away from friends, family, and girlfriends.”
The title track conjures up a hypnotic hook in the midst of the musical tumult.
"The title track is about allowing your brain to fall into different ways of thinking,” he goes on. “We don't find that through drugs. We prefer finding that through organic things like music and personal relationships. We prefer our perspectives to be kept in a natural place. That's what the song is to us, but it's obviously wide open for interpretation."
Ultimately, Erra engage all of the senses with Drift and leave a lasting impression. "We wanted to portray real emotions," Jesse leaves off. "We hope people feel affected by the way a song sounds. We hope to provide an atmosphere for their minds to relax in."