Release Date: Oct 9, 2012
Record label: Epitaph
By virtue, when personal attachment and fondness are shared, desire is kindled for closeness in proximity. We are creatures driven by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, regardless of the various subjective forms these emotions might constitute. Fittingly, contact is yearned for whenever distance becomes a subjugating variable; a longing unfolds for those who are missed and determination to return ensues.
After more than 20 years of playing and recording together, you would think that Converge, one of the most innovative and chaotic hardcore/metal bands around today, would show even the slightest signs of slowing down. After all, hardcore bands in general typically don’t have a very long shelf life, as many of the bands predecessors and even contemporaries could barely stay together for less than a decade before disbanding. It seems like a miracle that a band like Converge is even still together, but as each release shows, from their early recordings to 2001’s masterful Jane Doe to 2009’s brilliant collaborative effort Axe To Fall, Converge prove time and time again to be more visceral, unique, and uncompromising than many of their peers, despite being considered elder statesmen amongst today’s groups.
Review Summary: The kings of hardcore have returned to provide another brutal beatdown on all of their willing victims. It’s no secret that Converge has long been the envy of its peers, releasing one critically acclaimed album after another while garnering elite status amongst its followers. Petitioning The Empty Sky, Jane Doe, You Fail Me, and Axe to Fall are all household names amongst avid hardcore fans, and at this point the questions of consistency and longevity have already been answered.
Over the past 22 years, Converge has deftly succeeded in coalescing the worlds of aural violence and art. When you consider the extracurricular activities of Converge’s lineup, between Jacob Bannon’s Deathwish record label, the infinite number of hyped albums cut at guitarist/producer/engineer Kurt Ballou’s GodCity Studio, and the side-projects bassist Nate Newton and drummer Band Koller participate in, it’s hard to deny the troupe’s role as an essential tastemaker for the hardcore community. With the release of All We Love We Leave Behind, Converge has once again displayed its uncanny ability to create an album as skull-cleaving as it is beautiful.
The brilliant hardcore band Converge have been around a long time, though you might not guess it from the manic energy crammed into their eighth album, All We Love We Leave Behind. If you go beyond the amped, break-neck intensity and listen to the compositions, it becomes clear the Boston band is nearing the 25-year mark: You don't just show up and write songs like this. One of the quartet's not-so-secret weapons is Kurt Ballou, the guitarist (and backing vocalist, bassist, keyboardist, etc.), who happens to be one of the most well-regarded engineers in heavy music and an endless tinkerer who'd build a snare from scratch if it meant getting the sound he needed.
The tenth track of Converge's landmark 2001 album Jane Doe, "Phoenix In Flames," is a terrifying 42-second storm of distorted drums and the piercing shrieks of vocalist Jacob Bannon. It sounds like it was recorded while the studio was being engulfed in some sort of horrible disaster, and reaches its climax with one of Bannon's most blood-chilling cries put to tape. 11 years later, Converge's eighth full-length, All We Love We Leave Behind, takes that track's same thematic arc and stretches it into a harrowing 38 minutes.
There must be a certain amount of anxiety found amongst band members when the time comes to follow up an album that has been decorated as a genre classic. It is a position that the guys in Converge have found themselves in on more than one occasion. 2001 saw the release of their fourth full-length, Jane Doe, an album that will be forever classed as a monumental milestone in extreme metal.
Worshipped in hardcore circles like Mohammed fronting the Smiths, Converge have been the standard bearers for progressive punk-metal for the past decade, delivering an impeccable line in controlled aggression with tremendous skill and integrity since their genre-defining and defying fourth record, Jane Doe, smashed the door in back in 2001. It’s hard to think of another band from any part of the spectrum whose output has remained as consistently impressive and critically adored as theirs, especially amazing given that the Massachusetts quartet operate in a genre whose worst excesses can be among the most boneheaded and reactionary on the musical map. In their hands hardcore is multi-layered and dynamic, borrowing from post-rock and doom, grindcore and thrash, and even hinting at acid rock and jazz, constantly changing gear and tone while somehow maintaining a purist punk spirit.
2009’s Axe to Fall saw Boston-based hardcore kings Converge enlisting a small but deadly army of co-conspirators, doubling down on their already ferocious sound with newfound malevolence. All We Love We Leave Behind, the group’s eighth studio album, manages to summon that same level of intensity without the aid of a single mercenary. Fans dropping the needle for the first time may be put off by the opener "Aimless Arrow," which finds vocalist Jacob Bannon trading in his atonal, guttural wail for a semi-melodious, albeit unhinged croon, but the one-two punch that follows ("Trespasses" and "Tender Abuse") should assuage any fears of a seismic, stylistic sea change.
For the uninitiated, the hybrid sub-genre ‘metalcore’ is punk played with the cartoonish evil of metal, crossed with metal played by punk delinquents. It’s the best of both worlds, and a squalid creation dreamt up by Converge, Boston’s most degenerate band. At this point we should be toasting another album of peerless intensity, but by trading nonsensical time signatures and atonal bursts for fluidity and stadium rock, they’ve subtracted from their former wretchedness.
Extraordinary enough to perhaps stand as this band’s greatest album yet. Raziq Rauf 2012 Though they’re now in their third decade as a group, Massachusetts metalcore pioneers Converge find themselves as influential as ever. And this eighth studio album sees the four-piece climb the next step of the stairway of relevance. Still regarded as a genre-definer, it’s 2001’s Jane Doe that perhaps stands as Converge’s seminal collection.
Let's get this straight right off the bat: All We Love We Leave Behind is not Jane Doe. It's not You Fail Me, nor No Heroes. It's not even Converge's last album, Axe to Fall. And this is specifically because they don't want it to be. While the group could choose to emulate their past, to rest on ….