Friday, October 5, 2012
Converge: All We Love We Leave Behind
I've been a big fan of Converge since I jumped on board with them for their third album the 1998 release " When forever comes crashing". Over the years Converge has evolved often complimenting my growing ears and always staying relevant. On "Axe to Fall" we weren't gelled with one another and it was the first time I didn't like one of their albums upon the initial listen. Later, when I went back and made it through the first few tracks which I found a little too busy with guitar acrobatics cluttering up the recklessly fast pace, I enjoyed it. "All we love we leave behind" finds us back in step with one another, though you know how I don't play favorites so the magnifying glass is out as I sit down for my third listen, and I doubt I'll be listening to much of anything else today.
They bringing all the various element which normally comprise the dynamic range of their sound. The abrasive hardcore to the darker creepy melodies. The busy guitar hero tricks of "axe to fall" return at at times but are more tastefully executed. Having survived the whole metal core flood of the MySpace days Converge is really one of the only bands of their ilk who have stood the test of time...while retaining their sense of identity , which is where they peers like Cave-in and Thrice fell short.
A lot people know Old Mastadon for the spastic hardcore moments well here is where they came from sure you can list all the hip Brooklyn vegan flavors of week and they all owe Converge a debt of gratitude. So we can bow at their altar all day and I'll never get this album scored and review finished so let's give this the old track by track exam and see how it holds up under scrutiny.
The opener "Aimless arrow" is quick and jerky with Jacob Bannon using an intelligible more punk inflected vocal rather than his rabid dog barking. This one punches in as smart flurry and is an interesting choice to open things up with.
The following two tracks are more the straight ahead fast hard core style, "trespasses" hammers in with a Slayer like relentlessness , superb drumming keeps the song from just becoming a blur of movement and some clever almost rock n roll guitar. "Tender abuse" is more punk in feel as it has a sloppier assault until it slows in the final thirty seconds.
The bluesy intro to "Sadness comes home" had me wondering if they had toured with the Mastodudes one many times, this is one of the more "axe to fall" flavored tracks but a prime example of a more mature approach to some of the busy guitar runs which cluttered that album. By this point in Brannon is back to the scalded dog howls, until a dark muttering shows up on the song " empty on the inside" which starts with a powerful stomp, it almost seemed like the b section to the previous song and breaks down into more of a march pattern.
"Sparrows fall" is a minute and a half of straight ahead assault , while I can appreciate it for what it is I think the first few songs have already touched on this and Converge has already been here and done this, to the point is its fairly generic for them. " a Glacial place" offsets the outburst of the previous song as it darkens things up. Songs like this are my favorite thing about Converge, as they approach different angles of getting to the heavy parts, the double bass on this one will make any death metal drummer envious, ok maybe not Pete the feet, but it's pretty bad ass if we are going to use high school vocabulary.
"vicious muse" is another example of how Converge can craft smart hard core with our going into the more grind Core blam, blam, blam, ...which seems pointless when they are capable of writing songs like this. Punching in all the right places with a hint of old school gang vocals. "veils and veins" goes back to the very straight forward punk snare and the dog barking vocals.
"Coral blue" we go back to the dark and brooding side. Bannon gets close to almost really singing, I always enjoy these attempts because he is a fellow Morrissey fanatic so attribute this to his inspiration for the empassioned release. I also giggle when I think of him bum rushing the stage to give Moz flowers or a hug. There kind of a mike Patton vibe , like Tomahawk era to the vocals.
"shame in the way" is another short and sweet burst of aggression but I like this one better because it's more metal influenced than punk, and I suppose through out the years I tend to fast forward some of their more obnoxious punk influenced moments, as Discharge, Black Flag and Dead Kennedys aside I generally disdain most punk. With Converge the Discharge and Black Flag influence has alreadys colored the corners which I'm fine with, I'm even o.k with the winks of Minor Threat, who I also like I just haven't found any of their stuff that has transferred over to digital quality for my iPod very well, though may e I'll give it another search this weekend, and I doubt Converge will mind giving some time in their review to discuss such.
Speaking of Morrissey earlier "Precipice" reminds me of this albums , "there is a light that never goes out" lingering guitar that unlike the Smiths song is more of an interlude to the title track than a real stand alone song. The title track track has a nice build into the speedier section and the aggression is a good dynamic rather than the only color painting the song.
"predatory glow" closes things with a bulldozing chug that would have felt at home on"you fail me." I would say as a whole this album uses a lot of the same colors and sounds from "Jane doe" forward. Unless we are talking about what not sounds to be the juvenile outbursts of punk , this is not a bad thing as it remembers while walking forward as song writers, they don't need to reinvent their identity. So if I leave my fan boy at home and weigh the few sideways lapses with the continued growth in songwriting then I would give this album and 8.5 but will round it up to a 9 as the moments of greatness they do nail sit well next to their more classic output and despite my best attempts at being impartial this is my fucking blog and I can round up their score just on the basis of I like the sound of Converge being uncompromisingly themselves.