Review Summary: A thrashier Converge shows the musicanship and orginality of a band with twice the experience.
Measuring up to the overall aggression and emotion Converge displays throughout each and every album is a worthy task. Seldom do I listen to a bands record and believe they match Converge's songwriting sense or their highly advanced musicianship. The scary part about the band is that they have managed to stay the premier act in metalcore for over fifteen years. The distinctive sound Converge has pioneered and constantly toyed with over the years still remains original, even with the recent metalcore explosion. Even with the unstable beginnings of the bands early members, Converge have always been able to find various tones and sounds while still retaining their own brand of hardcore. This creativity is as evident as ever on Converge's second album, Petitioning the Empty Sky
. Originally released in 1998 and re-released on 2005, Petitioning the Empty Sky
is certainly among the bands greatest albums. While not having the unreal cohesiveness of Jane Doe
, the songs on Petitioning...
can be listened to individually and still be enjoyed. The album feels like an amazing collection of songs instead of a full fledged album.
The aggressive nature of Converge is displayed perfectly in the album opener, "The Saddest Day". The track is complete chaos but the band manages to keep everything together. Converge also makes known that their music isn't easy on the ears by any means whatsoever. Ear piercing guitar and a pounding rhythm are staples throughout the song. Even being seven minutes long, almost unheard of in metalcore, not a single moment of the track is boring. Gradually increasing in speed, the breakdown of "The Saddest Day" is the musical highlight of the track. A quick tremolo picked riff and a noisy "solo" set the track up for a clean guitar passage with the off-key singing. The stamina and genius that is shown through the entire song by the band worthy of praise. Many of the songs on Petitioning...
utilize the same aggression that is apparent on "The Saddest Day". "Color Me Blood Red" establishes a frightening mood with the guitar work in the intro. The rhythm section is as strong as ever having to deal with the technical guitar riffing. The split second pauses and tempos changes keep "Color Me Blood Red" unpredictable and one of many standout tracks. On top of the studio recorded tracks on Petitioning...
, the album features three tracks recorded from a radio appearance. Here, the listener is able to witness the aggression of the music in a live setting. Every instrument is cleanly heard and the vocals are just as heartfelt. The re-released version of this album also includes a different version of "Love Is Arson", a track that was originally on When Forever Comes Crashing
. The only difference I was able to notice was that the recording is brighter on Petitioning...
but it is still worth a listen.
Providing much of the emotion and aggression that is in Converge's music is the vocalist, Jacob Bannon (not that the band doesn't). His manic screaming creates incredible tension in some songs while in others, his off-key singing gives off the impression that he is mourning. "Dead" is a prime example of his singing being used well. Bannon forces out a painful "You never loved me/I cannot lie down in that bed". The slowest song on the entire album, "Farewell Note To This City" gives us a look at the rather calm version of Converge. Calming harmonics are played on the guitar while the bass takes center stage with a fitting riff. Exploding at the halfway point "Farewell Note To This City" changes into a straightforward hardcore song with a simple progression. It should also be noted that Bannon is an excellent lyricist. Even though most of his lyrics deal with love lost or love that has become aloof, all of the songs are well put together (you'll probably have to read them because understanding his scream is near impossible).
For a hardcore album, Petitioning the Empty Sky
sure displays quite the array of emotions. Whether Converge is going all out and playing unthinkably intense or if they are restrained and more concerned with melody, they are always unpredictable. The album isn't as well thought out a later releases from Converge would suggest (specifically Jane Doe
) but Petitioning the Empty Sky
is still one of the bands best. Combining the technical aspect of metal and the aggression of hardcore, this album destroys most other metalcore releases, past and present. Any fan of Converge should pick this up immediately.