Thursday, 3 May 2018

CONVERGE

BandCONVERGE
GenresPunk / Hardcore / Noise / Metal / Mathcore / Metalcore / Experimental
Related artistsOld Man Gloom, Mutoid Man, Jesuit, Cave In, Bane, Daltonic, Only Crime, Ten Yard Fight, Velocity Engine, Kid Kilowatt, Acid Tiger, All Pigs Must Die, Bastian, Blue/Green Heart, Clouds, Forcefedglass, Killer Be Killed, United Nations, Irons, Ire, Canephora, The End Of The Universe, Euclid, Sevenpercentsolution, The Hugenots, Channel, Doomriders, Split Cranium, New Idea Society, Pet Genius, Steve Brodsky, The Holey Moleys, Kingdom Of The Sun and Supermachiner.
CountryBoston, Massachusettes U.S.A.
Years Active1990-present
Song: "My Great Devastator"
Album: "The Poacher Diaries"
Year: 1999
For fans ofLamantide, Rorschach, TentaclesStuntmanCoarse, The Minor Times, I Am A Curse, Celeste, Officer Jones And His Patrol Car Problems, Between The Buried And Me, Harlots, Johnny TruantCave In, Old Man Gloom, Zozobra, (early) Norma Jean, The Chariot, Botch, Acme, Carol, The Power And The Glory, Beneath The Ashes, Zann, Trainwreck, I Not Dance, Uziel, Starkweather, Born Against, Deadguy, Coalesce, Neurosis, Isis, Jesuit, Black FlagMörser, Liar, Congress, Pig Destroyer, Overcast, Into The Moat, For The Love Of, Slayer, The Jesus Lizard, Entombed, Wake, AmnesianCalvaiire, Hexis, Euth, The Love And Terror Cult, Tempest, Supermachiner, Curl Up And Die and Lavotchkin.
Label(s): Self Released / Deathwish Inc. / Hydra Head Records / Relapse Records / Epitaph Records / Equal Vision Records / Ferret Music / Earthmaker Records / Stolnacke Records / Shock / Союз / Foundation America Records / Heliotrope / Edison Recordings / Life Records / Ellington Records / Lost And Found Records
This post's artist is from the April 2018 Mix. This is track #10.
You can download: the April 2018 Mix#4 right here or get the new May 2018 Mix#5 here.

CONVERGE has been around for a very long time. Like, almost 30 fucking years. It still boggles the mind to think that the band has been pretty much amazing for the last 25 or so, making little-to-no mistakes in a style of music that tends to attract an overabundance of opinions and judgements. For me to try and give a proper history or account of the band's evolution over time would be downright redundant, unnecessary and time consuming. People have done it before and they've done it better than I ever could. So instead of wasting everyone's time, I'll just give you this relatively short piece that follows Dave's history of CONVERGE. (lol, not that short)

It all started for me when 'Jane Doe' came out, so I reckon around 2001/2002. I saw it mentioned everywhere and was getting into other Hydra Head acts like Botch, Cave In and Isis so I tried CONVERGE out. My first thought...what the fuck is this? The vocals in particular were so banshee-esque in their shrill, potent shrieks that I partially recoiled, only to take a step closer and be knocked on my ass by the insanely technical and awkward instrumentals. Now don't get upset, I was determined to get to the bottom of all the hoopla, so I forged on and downloaded the entire 'Jane Doe' album. It was the most straightforward song on the record that finally hooked me and pulled me into the massive entity that is CONVERGE, and that was track five's "Homewrecker". Being only halfway crazy, it helped bridge the gap and soon I was in heaven. I still thoroughly enjoy getting pulverized by "Concubine" and "Fault and Fracture" (the second being one of the best CONVERGE songs ever which they made an unreal music video for, linked here), "The Broken Vow" (the build and dual vocals after the one-minute mark and conclusion from 1:40-2:13 are unreal), "Bitter and Then Some" (shares similarities with "Fault and Fracture" but has an epic transition and triple vocal exchange from 52 seconds to its 1:27 conclusion), "Heaven in Her Arms" (a massive, swelling masterpiece), "Phoenix in Flight" (a beautiful, dark instrumental jam), "Phoenix in Flames" (basically a noise/vocal track that'll rip your face off) and "Thaw" (with its ridiculous, awkward yet very catchy guitar lickin'). Although it's not my thing as much as the aforementioned songs, closer and title track "Jane Doe" is pretty goddamn epic and a wonder to see played live in all its 11 and a half minutes of glory.

I then branched out and collected their earlier works, finding that 'Jane Doe' was much more up my alley than the 'Petitioning the Empty Sky' and 'When Forever Comes Crashing', although in time I grew to appreciate the hell out of those albums. Prior to that (aka 1990-1994) there wasn't a lot of output by the band that strikes me, although I'd be silly not to mention that the very early demos and albums are fantastic for a young band breaking the tough guy hardcore mold at that time.

'Petitioning the Empty Sky' is one hell of a piece of work. I mean, this was released in 1996 and still sounds as unique and fresh as anything coming out nowadays. Shhhhhiiiiiit, just listen to the first few seconds of the first fucking track "The Saddest Day". Remember when this came out and you'll likely do a double take (if for some reason you've never heard it before) because the intensity, anger and sheer power is staggering. As an album it's an excellent record, it just doesn't have the deeper and denser weight that is the CONVERGE I know. My favourite songs from this extremely progressive and confident record include that killer opener, "Forsaken" (the breakdown at 1:05 is ridiculous), "Dead" (with its desperate singing), "Shingles" (sounds like it was used to dismantle the Berlin Wall) and "Color Me Red" (dear lord once 33 seconds hits my world is just rubble). Some would definitely argue that this is their best release, and if I had heard it first in 1996 I might be saying the same thing right now.

'When Forever Comes Crashing' is another very popular record, boasting incredible songs such as "My Unsaid Everything", "Towing Jehova" and "Year of the Swine". As a record it's got some killer tunes, but I think I actually prefer the preceding LP more than this, despite having Stephen Brodsky on bass and strong songs with astounding craftsmanship. "My Unsaid Everything" starts like a boxing match with one opponent (aka you) strapped to a chair with your arms behind your back...and then incorporates Chen Li's flurry of punches straight to your head, Street Fighter II style. "Towing Jehova" sounds literally like the band has attached the listener to a chain on a truck and is dragging them through the streets at dangerous speeds. The flip at 1:14 and the subsequent stop/start of the instrumentals and vocals fuckin' makes this, good god. The other notable track is "Year of the Swine", which opens with Ballou dueling himself on guitar before the rest of the band blasts out and hits full force around 1:05 and doesn't let up until its end at 3:47.

In 1999 CONVERGE released an incredible split with Agoraphobic Nosebleed known as 'The Poacher Diaries' and that sucker has the song I chose for the blog mix, "My Great Devastator". This thing is possibly the most prodigiously evil thing I've ever heard. When listening, I imagine an alien race descending on Earth and obliterating human beings, buildings...everything, and that destruction can be witnessed in all its glory from 1:50 onward. Opener "Locust Reign" is only 1:28 but holy shit it packs a punch, as it throws down a frenzy of breakdowns for a third of it as well as dual vocals. "This is Mine" tears through in just 1:36 with dizzying guitar work that certainly shows where they were heading in 2001. And in that year, they released a 'Deeper The Wound split' with which included a demo version of "Thaw" that definitely set the stage for 'Jane Doe'. Hey...I already talked about 'Jane Doe', remember?

So let's move forward to 2003, when I rushed to grab my copy of 'Unloved and Weeded Out', the compilation LP that houses the 1995 EP of the same name and collects a bunch of rare and unreleased stuff. My introduction to their rarer, 1995 material was mindboggling, as opener "Downpour" is one of my favourite CONVERGE songs and easily could have been included on 'You Fail Me' and I'd have been none the wiser. It's a paralyzing crash through 2:41 of unrelenting and extreme hardcore/metal with a pummeling transition 40 seconds in as well as a build that culminates in the apocalypse at about 1:48. From the EP (tracks 4-6) the song "For You" is my favourite, as it builds a false sense of hope and then dashes it at 1:30 with nightmarish instrumentals and venomous vocals.

In 2004 'You Fail Me' was released and I would still argue that this is probably my favourite CONVERGE record. There's something about the additional spoken word/singing delivery that Jacob Bannon really sticks to on this that pushes all the right buttons for Dave. Not only that, but the dark screams are even deeper and hellish, making them sound like an absolute nightmare (in a good way) when coupled with the punishing onslaught of Kurt Ballou, Nate Newton and Ben Koller. I mean, c'mon, when "Last Light" kicks in you'll find me drooling on the floor every fucking time. The penultimate part starts building at 2:50 with "This is for the heart still...beating...beating...beating...DUN DUN!! DUN DUN DUN DUN!!!! DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN!!!!!!". I was so happy with myself when I figured out the timing as x2, x4 and then x6 cuz I couldn't bang my head along in time with it for a few listens due to my lack of musical theory. Wait, that's just math. WAIT...that's just numbers. Aw shit. Anyways, the guitars as well as the vocals in this track are very different from previous CONVERGE releases and the atmosphere of it all is enthralling. The rest of the album isn't too far from this, and includes "Eagles Become Vultures" for which they made a really sick music video (linked here). Other favourites include "Black Cloud" (black cloud gaining!!!), "Hope Street" (vicious vocals), "Heartless" (awesome riffs at the end), "You Fail Me" (massive and unstable with a Cave In guitar progression), "Death King" (sinister and frantic) and "Hanging Moon" (with Jacob's yelling/talking and very different sounding instrumentals that fit perfectly). It's probably also worth noting that at around this point I realized that Ben Koller is an absolutely ridiculous drummer (a little late, I know). Honestly, holy shit. Easily in my top 5 drummers.

I always felt CONVERGE had a bit of a dip at this point, as they released 'No Heroes' in 2006 and 'Axe to Fall' in 2009. It's funny, prior to doing this review I remembered these albums as being inferior, but upon further listens after an extended break, I've gotta say, they are much better than I remembered. In fact, in terms of amazing songs:songs ratio it's about 1:2, which is pretty sweet when you're sitting at 50% or above with 10+ tracks on a record. From 'No Heroes' my top jams are "Heartache", "Hellbound" (oooo baby this song blazes), "No Heroes", "Plagues" (another song likely influenced by Cave In), "Orphaned", "Lonewolves" (featuring the talk/yell that I'm so fond of), "Bare My Teeth" and "To the Lions". Every CONVERGE album is extremely angry, but this one is perhaps the most pissed off and lethal of all the band's records. 'Axe to Fall' houses more killer tunes and begins with one of their best ever songs "Dark Horse", which mixes melody with sheer chaos. This thing's guitars are riffdiculous, the drums and bass are pulverizing and the vocals are classic Bannon. Title track "Axe to Fall" is intense as fuck, with a supersonic riff at 12 and 35 seconds and drums that could lay waste to any army. "Wishing Well", "Slave Driver" and "Cutter" aren't too far from the aforementioned tracks, blazing fire consistently, while "Dead Beat" is a bit more relaxed and anthemic, with very cool instrumentals that build the song up and then lay waste to it before the first minute is over.

In 2012 when 'All We Love We Leave Behind' was released, I was still under the impression that the band was wavering in their amazingness, but this massive LP (17 tracks in total) got me back hard into CONVERGE. I mean, c'mon, how could it not with that immense opener and music video for "Aimless Arrow" (linked here). Its exceptional vocal work by Bannon and drumming conclusion by Koller make this one of their best songs. The list of exceptional tracks is extensive, including: "Trespasses", "Tender Abuse", "Sadness Comes Home" (a Kurt Ballou clinic), "Sparrow's Fall" (fire!), "Glacial Pace" (a fitting song title), "Vicious Muse" (almost danceable), "Shame in the Way", "On My Shield", "All We Love We Leave Behind" (with a sick music video, linked here) and the  pulverizing closer "Predatory Glow". I made sure to get the deluxe version cd with all 17 songs and the book/case is gorgeous to look at and read. Definitely an awesome record. After 'Jane Doe' and 'You Fail Me' this would be my third favourite.

In 2017, a full five years after their previous full length, CONVERGE released 'The Dusk in Us'. At 13 tracks, it's a violent trek through your relatively typical CONVERGE sound. At first I heard the b-side "Eve" and was not sold. Then I heard the opener "A Single Tear" and I was very, very sold. And then I listened to the record about 10 times and was just meh about the album in general. It's not bad, it's good. But from CONVERGE I've come to expect a lot more than that, as demanding as that may be. Who knows, maybe I'll write another review in 10 years and realize that I like the album much more than I initially did. There are definitely some very strong songs, including that stupid opener for which they made a music video (linked here) which is only okay until the first minute concludes and then the chorus kicks in and daaaaaaaammmmmn is it mesmerizing. "Under Duress", "I Can Tell You About Pain" and "Reptilian" are also good tracks, but only having 4 out of 13 notable songs makes it the band's first album that leaves me a tad disappointed. But let's be real, CONVERGE rules and even a disappointing release is a damn good release in the grand scheme of things.

I figured now would be a good time to list a few bands that I think sound like CONVERGE that perhaps you are unaware of. They include: LamantideTentaclesStuntmanCelesteJohnny TruantCave InOld Man GloomCarolThe Power And The Glory and The Love And Terror CultAnd lastly, for the youtube embeds below I've tried to use the music videos where possible, but let's be honest, CONVERGE knows what the fuck they're doing and they always make a video of one or two of their strongest tracks.

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DISCOGRAPHY

1992 - Converge 7"EP
1992 - Gravel cassetteEP

1993 - Favorite American Marches cassetteEP
1993 - Where Have All the Flowers Gone? cassetteEP

1994 - Halo in a Haystack 12"LP

1995 - Unloved and Weeded Out 7"EP
1996 - Caring and Killing cdLP (1991-1994 material compilation)

1996 - Petitioning the Empty Sky cassette/cd/12"LP
1996 - Petitioning the Empty Sky 7"EP

1997 - Among the Dead We Pray for Light split (w/Coalesce) 7"EP
1997 - In These Black Days, Volume 2: A Tribute To Black Sabbath split (w/Brutal Truth) 7"EP
1997 - Downpour/Serial Killer 5"EP

1998 - When Forever Comes Crashing cassette/cd/12"LP

1999 - The Poacher Diaries (split w/Agoraphobic Nosebleed) cd/12"LP
1999 - Y2K 7"EP

2001 - Deeper the Wound (split w/Hellchild) cd/12"LP
2001 - Jane Doe cd/2x12"LP

2003 - Unloved and Weeded Out cdLP (1994-2001 material compilation)
2003 - The Long Road Home DVD

2004 - You Fail Me cd/12"LP

2005 - Petitioning Forever 12"/2x12"LP compilation

2006 - No Heroes cd/12"LP

2009 - Axe to Fall cd/12"LP

2010 - On My Shield 7" single

2011 - Dropdead split 7"EP

2012 - All We Love We Leave Behind cassette/cd/2x12"LP
2012 - Napalm Death split 7"EP

2013 - Pound For Pound: The Wolverine Blues Sessions digitalEP

2014 - Live at the BBC 7"EP

2015 - Thousands of Miles Between Us DVD

2017 - The Dusk In Us cd/12"LP
2017 - I Can Tell You About Pain 7"EP
2017 - Jane Live cd/2x12"LP

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(2017) CONVERGE - "A Single Tear" (from 'The Dusk in Us') official music video

(2017) CONVERGE - "I Can Tell You About Pain" (from 'The Dusk in Us') official music video

(2012) CONVERGE - "Aimless Arrow" (from 'All We Love We Leave Behind') official music video

(2012) CONVERGE - "Precipice / All We Love We Leave Behind" (from 'All We Love We Leave Behind') official music video

(2012) CONVERGE - "Wolverine Blues" (from 'Napalm Death' split)

(2006) CONVERGE - "No Heroes" (from 'No Heroes')

(2004) CONVERGE - "Eagles Become Vultures" (from 'You Fail Me') official music video

(2004) CONVERGE - "Last Light" (from 'You Fail Me')

(2001) CONVERGE - "Concubine/Fault and Fracture" (from 'Jane Doe') official music video

(2001) CONVERGE - "Bitter and Then Some" (from 'Jane Doe')

(1999) CONVERGE - "My Great Devastator" (from 'The Poacher Diaries')

(1998) CONVERGE - "Towing Jehova" (from 'When Forever Comes Crashing')

(1997) CONVERGE - "Downpour" (from 'Downpour / Serial Killer')

(1996) CONVERGE - "The Saddest Day" (from 'Petitioning the Empty Sky')

(1995) CONVERGE - "For You" (from 'Unloved and Weeded Out')

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CONVERGE additional links

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