This coming Friday, November 22nd, the South African sludge metal band The Drift will release their third album, Seer, which forms the final installment in the Deluge trilogy that began with 2013’s Dreams of Deluge and 2015’s The Mountain Star. The new album is packed with ideas and diverse experiences, so much so that calling The Drift a sludge band is a great oversimplification, even if that label does accurately capture a part of their sound (but only a part).
The Drift sum up Seer as “the sound of introspection, with tracks ranging from claustrophobic and frenetic to open and expansive”, and that is accurate, but that too only scratches the surface of the broad spectrum of sounds and sensations that a trip through Seer reveals.
The opening pair of tracks, “A Coward’s Wager” and “Seer”, introduce the listener to mountainous heaviness in the low end, the sharp crack and knee-capping punchiness of the drumwork, and the penetrating intensity of the riffing, as well as some of the many aspects of the vocals you’ll hear on the album — in this case an array of scorching screams and cold-hearted roars. The music is bruising and bleak but also becomes a hammering high-octane fury, as the guitars generate a mix of dismal, groaning heaviness and circle-saw savagery, creating moods of ponderous, oppressive gloom and riotous rage.
But the band’s musical bag of tricks isn’t nearly exhausted with what you’ll hear on those opening songs. “Don’t Forget to Breathe” gets very trippy, and a clean vocal harmony makes the song seem even more psychoactive. “Funeral Man” includes haunting guitar picking and grand, dismal chords, as well as more vocal harmonies that are somber and wailing, to go along with the bone-breaking grooves and a splendorous guitar solo.
“Adrift” introduces a kind of floating ambient shimmer along with an exotic guitar lead and a very effective mix of clean and harsh vocals. The song is chilling but also spellbinding, and it rocks damned hard too, though the heavy overhang of darkness is palpable.
The lead-weighted bass tones and soulful guitar arpeggios at the outset of “Day One” lead into a descent into cavernous depths, but the band also make room for neck-wrecking chugs, vertebra-snapping snare rhythms, psyched-out soloing, and seductive singing. The track becomes an expansive, even epic, affair, though the soul-stirring sorrow in its grand closing melody is unmistakable. If it’s not the best song on the album, sitting near the center of the running order, it’s very close (with the album closer as the other finalist for that award).
“Decider” cranks up the energy again, but ultimately combines its juggernaut mauling with something like the sensations of a hazy opium dream, while “Reclaim This World” is a vicious, heavyweight crusher, with grooves near the end that go off like megaton bombs.
You won’t see “A Passage In Time” coming (though now you will). It’s both the shortest track on the album and also the record’s lightest and brightest offering, an instrumental composed of acoustic picking, flute-like melodies, and the unearthly shine of an intensely reverberating electric guitar solo.
Something of that track’s ethereal seductiveness manages to flow over into the album’s long closing track, “I Dream of Deluge”, but soon the band dial up the intensity — and the groovesome heaviness — while bringing the clean vocal harmonies (which soar) and swirling guitar work back into play as well. It’s a great way to finish the album. It combines the jolting, muscular physicality that’s clearly one of The Drift‘s fortes with immersive melodies that convey wistfulness and grief, as well as hope and beauty (and the closing guitar solo truly is a thing of beauty).
Seer really is a very ambitious and very accomplished album, and its continual variations make it easy to get carried away in what the band are doing, and to be drawn back into it without much delay.
Look for Seer on all digital platforms on November 22nd. Credit for the memorable cover art goes to Chris Valentine.
Oh, did we mention that we have the premiere of the entire album stream for you? Well, we do!
Start Time for Each Track:
0:00 – A Coward’s Wager
1:47 – Seer
5:28 – Don’t Forget to Breathe
8:45 – Funeral Man
13:31 – Adrift
20:42 – Day One
27:30 – Decider
30:00 – Reclaim this World
34:13 – A Passage in Time
35:05 – I Dream of Deluge