Review Summary: Jane Doe kicks like Tang, and overall is a remarkable accomplishment. Kudos to Converge for blowing listeners away with intensity that remains unmatched by any other album since.Converge
– Jane Doe
At the time of recording, Converge
Jacob Bannon – Vocals, Lyrics
Kurt Ballou - Guitar, Vocals, Theremin
Aaron Dalbec – Guitar
Nate Newton – Bass, Vocals, Theremin
Ben Koller – Drums
On a hot and sunny Southern California afternoon, I headed into Best Buy to grab a pair of earphones; the previous night my old pair had had the misfortune of being crushed beneath my friend’s feet. Passing by the CD aisles, I decided to impulsively buy the first one to grab my attention. I spotted Converge
’s No Heroes
out of the corner of my eye, and promptly picked it up, only to place it back in front of a large stack of Coldplay
’s Viva la Vida
. Now I was left with Jane Doe
, an album I had heard nothing but praise for. I wanted this, and rushed out of the store as soon as I could. By the time Concubine
and Jacob Bannon’s vocals started blasting out of my speakers, I was hooked. This was mindfully chaotic and disorganized music at its very best.
There probably isn’t much reason for an in-depth description of Converge
, but they are a heavily hardcore punk and thrash influenced band based in Salem, Massachusetts. Some of their larger influences include Slayer
, Black Flag
, and The Accused
. Jane Doe
is their 5th full-length album, and is widely regarded as their finest work to date. It has so much going for it, but it falls just short of being a classic.
What was done well:
Upon first listen, if one is new to the band and genre, one might feel that Jane Doe
is nothing to be intellectualized. That is not so. A ridiculous amount of emotion pours out of each and every instrument, as well as Bannon’s piercing shrieks. Regardless of whether his lyrics can be understood amidst the nonstop screaming, they are powerful and bring about emotional states that your average metal band will not. The whole album pertains to a relationship of Bannon’s gone sour, and it is beautifully written. Here are the lyrics to Fault and Fracture
, to give a little taste of what Bannon has to offer in the lyrical department.
You were most beautiful as the damage and the trauma
Pounding hard with battered wings of destiny
You were my last great war
You were my heaven ablaze
Riddled with faults and fractures
And I spent my last of days burning my oldest of bridges
And I spent my last of nights killing the best of friends
In the company of thieves, liars, beggers and whores
I'll lay waiting, just waiting for my time to come
It’s a shame that people chastise bands' simply because they seem overly intense, when the music they compose is usually as good if not better than anything else around. Returning to the instrumentals, they are incredibly tight, especially the drumming. Koller’s fills rival those of Brann Dailor of Mastodon
, and his beats are always fast and brutal. The guitar sound resembles that of At the Drive-in
, but fast-forward and pump up the volume. The bass work is as good as you’ll see, although it would be nice to see it take center stage more often. Every few songs, a slower track will be thrown in, to give the listener a bit of a break. This proves useful during the first few listens of the CD.
What wasn’t done so well/what the album had too much or too little of:
Despite the variation in tempo among the tracks, the musical aspect here occasionally gets monotonous. Songs flow nicely into one another and Jane Doe
sometimes feels like one frenzied musical opus, but it’s hard to name many of the tracks even after 10 or 12 listens. Again, this isn’t really burning Converge
for repetitiveness, but their overall tone remains the same, something good progressive and melodic metal will avoid completely, but is a frequent happening in this genre. The speedy guitar bits may be intricate but save for one moment in each song they are fairly conservative and won’t blow the listener away like other bands in the mathcore genre can. The album could use more clean vocals as well. When put to use they are very well done, nothing whiney or euphoric, but dark and brooding. The lyrics can get tiresome, but since you can’t understand them it doesn’t have any effect on the music.
The title track, Jane Doe
, was a bit of a disappointment. The album screams for an over the top and emphatic finish, but instead ends with one of the calmer tracks that goes on seemingly forever. There are clean vocals in places here, but it is otherwise unimpressive, certainly compared to the rest of the album. It mostly repeats itself, and could have been cut shorter than 11+ minutes.
What is left up to opinion:
Opinions play a key role in rating an album, but it feels like Jane Doe
can be rated solely on opinion. These guys play their music without structure very efficiently, but old school metal buffs may take offense to this and call it garbage. The screams are severe to say the least, and many will be turned off by them, but they are simply amazing due to the energy they produce the moment they hit your eardrums. Simply put, Converge
is intense, and if you haven’t enjoyed some lighter post-hardcore, this isn’t your cup of tea.
are an incredible group of musicians, and Jane Doe
is a phenomenal album. That said, it is not a classic. What it lacks is some more slightly colorful instrumental work, and its replay value isn’t as high as masterpieces in similar genres. I don’t want to take away from their wonderfully aggressive thrash sound, but it can get excessive after a few runs through. I also don’t want to make the reader believe that Converge
are structure-less; a common structure just isn’t as obvious here. While the album is meant to be listened to as a whole, sometimes this can be too much. Listeners who want a bit of Converge
here and there will find a few tracks enjoyable, but some are too short to provide any entertainment value on their own (Concubine
is excellent, but it is so much better when listened to before Fault and Fracture
, as Concubine
flows into it marvelously). One has to let this album sink in and not judge it on first listen. It is beautifully done in its own nutty sort of way.
Some recommended tracks:
Fault and Fracture
Distance and Meaning
The Broken Vow