Converge
Axe to Fall


4.0
excellent

Review

by Rationalist USER (50 Reviews)
November 20th, 2009 | 39 replies | 2,803 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Converge still have it in them to churn out some great music.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

There has to be a time where a creative force loses all inspiration, so it seems. Once a musical group peaks, they never regain that originality, that raw vigor, and that sheer energy they brought to the table once before. For example, once “Deloused In The Comatorium”was released by The Mars Volta, the sheer greatness was never again emulated, and never had time to grow into something new. If anything, “Frances The Mute” is the closest thing to reaching Deloused status. And then of course “Octahedron” came out which is the aural equivalent to blue balls (slow jerk but no pay....) In writing, Nathaniel Hawthorne's magnum opus, “The Scarlet Letter” (let's be honest, that conclusion is nearly unanimous) never compared with any of the rest of his works which are, in comparison, above average at best. And whilst “The House of Seven Gables” is still a feat in the English language, the former novel still reigns supreme.

But this has been proven untrue several times throughout the chronology of art. Discordance Axis began as a (let's face it) superior yet run-of-the-mill grindcore outfit. Through their history, they truly progressed with not only “Jouhou”, which encompasses the band's ability to progress and broadens their horizons, and “The Inalienable Dreamless” which shows all of their progression (which improved from the former album) and matches it with a more crisp element of production to create a classic album, a magnum opus.

So where does Converge's latest effort lie? On the side of being a sheer epic? Or the polar, a jocular piece of randomly composed tracks that lacks coherency? Well, somewhere in the middle, I suppose. This album outshines every effort put forth by this prolific metalcore outfit except for You Fail Me and Jane Doe. It is armed with impressive fretwork which oftentimes incorporates eerie, high-pitched tremolos and a coherent sort of “flurry of notes” akin to grindcore. The drum work is impressive, full of frenetic double-bass patterns, high-rate snare, and tom and cymbal exercises. The bass adds some lean muscle to the mix, but it is a true rarity for it to stand out and add something special to the mix. Now, to leave the realm of the instrumentation of the album and to move onto the vocals...

The vocals, while they are raw and rough, they rarely show range, and at first listen, seem downplayed. And while these vocals are in no way bad-they are actually executed superbly-they grow old easily. However, this element of the album is soon overlooked as the album progresses, especially in the last tracks, where different vocal techniques are the only ones to be found. But the aforementioned vocal highlights come from many different guest musicians which shows not the talent of Jacob Bannon, but from the likes of Mookie Singerman.

And lyrically, this album is just okay. Converge has never been known for their poetic senses though now were they? The fault of the lyrics here is not on the subject matter so much as the lack of literary elements, poetic devices, or lyrical spark. And this is truly a morose feeling that this negative aspect on this album brings to the listener; having great potential and failing on execution is a sad thing.

So what about the individual tracks on this album? How do they exactly outshine those on their other albums? Well, just a run through of the album reveals all of the peaks and valleys located within this album. Most of these low valleys are products of poor execution rather than lackluster conception. And most of these highs show when both conception and execution meld together to form superb tracks that form a cohesive unit when combined together.

“Dark Horse” starts off the album exceptionally well. The high-rate, high-pitch guitar work is staccato, and the arpeggios add a special level of energy and vigor to the mix. After some lackluster performances (which include the title track, “Axe To Fall,” which is a grave, forgettable disappointment) the band hit a new low with the track, “Worms Will Feed/Rats Will Feast.” It's far too slow, has no direction whatsoever, and is a tedious, strenuous chore to sit through. “Damages” suffers this same plague, but has some sort of direction and gets interesting on occasion.

“Cutter” begins with a low-pitched riff that exudes extreme energy. This short track eventually incorporates several minuscule solos that pack a punch. “Effigy” is the most energetic track on the album, and incorporates eerie, screeching guitars and fast, fascinating drumming. The drums roll and blast away, and several cymbals taps and crashes are exhibited. “Slave Driver” not only includes both the high-pitched, speedy guitar work and said drumming, but brings a new style of vocalization to the mix. “Losing Battle” only exemplifies the vocal strength, the sheer prowess of the percussion instruments, and the quaint guitars and is truly a highlight.

However, the last two tracks are awesome and righteous. They're progressive indie tracks with smooth, clean vocals executed delightfully by: Steve von Till; Aimee Argote; The Rodeo; Chris Taylor; and Mookie Singerman. Not only do these vocals progress into a louder, more raucous rasp, but the instrumentation grows louder, crescendos abruptly, and the intensity increase as well. “Cruel Bloom” is more of a smooth track that involves just minute amounts of dissonance, and shows highlights vocally and conceptually. “Wretched World” takes all of these elements to the next degree. The track begins with a dissonant, melancholy tune executed by both bass and guitar. This progresses into a robotic voice segueing into a tranquil pool of music involving subtle synthesizer work, guitars, calm vocals, decent bass work, and stable drums. This track ends the album on a high note, and is the best track on the album.

To close, Converge shows their superiorities in their genre of music. They construct an exceptional album with fantastic musicianship, great vocal work, and falls flat on occasion. This album at first will disappoint. But the way that the tracks act as a cohesive unit, and the latter half of the album make this purchase worthwhile, and show why Converge still have it in them to churn out some great music.

FINAL RATING:
3.9/5



Recent reviews by this author
The Radio Dept. Clinging to a SchemeThe Chariot Wars and Rumors of Wars
Alcest Souvenirs d'un autre MondeMetric Fantasies
Henryk Gorecki Symphony No. 3, Op. 36The Locust New Erections
user ratings (2242)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Rationalist
November 21st 2009



880 Comments


Long ass review... please tell me if you see any grammatical/spelling mistakes, or if anything reads awkwardly. I appreciate criticism.

Eclectic
November 21st 2009



3302 Comments


tl;dr
Try to stay away from track by track reviews, very few people like them.

Piglet
November 21st 2009



4652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hmmm

Prophet178
November 21st 2009



6397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You should refer to books in the present tense instead of the past.

Converge has never been known for their poetic senses though now were they?


I beg to differ (see Jane Doe.)

not the talent of Jacob Bannon, but from the likes of Mookie Singerman.


I think you mean Steve from Neurosis (Cruel Bloom)?

Didn't bother reading the track by track, sorry man, I think they're unnecessary.


Rationalist
November 21st 2009



880 Comments


I felt that there was a sense of one side of the album being very hit and miss, while the latter half was stupendous. That was my motivation for doing a t-b-t review.

Actually, at first it was going to be extremely witty and short, like a Shakespeare quote. However Hell Doth Hath Fury afterall and therfore there was an evolution from a shorter review to a detailed, t-b-t review.

Also there's more than t-b-t so, if you want more of a summary, there's the first couple paragraphs and the last one. The t-b-t is more of "let's see how my opinion compares with person x, and based on that I'll commence a conversation about said opinion." Rather than a review of only spoilers. There's both, so if you like one, you get one, or both. Alternatives here, eclectic.

Rationalist
November 21st 2009



880 Comments


@ prophet:
Okay, how's this:
"Twilight sucked, but the rest of the series was worse?"

In general terms, they're not poetic. Like an Orchid thing.

No, I mean Singerman. If you check the additional musicians section on the back of the lyrical booklet, Singerman does the lead vocals for Wretched World. But yes, Steve gives an exceptional performance as well.



Rationalist
November 21st 2009



880 Comments


And as I said, if you don't want to read the tbt part of the review, don't. It's an alternative review on its own.

Eclectic
November 21st 2009



3302 Comments


Yeah, I read that part. It was pretty meh tbh. That whole first paragraph is filler and could easily be halved or summarised. Its not terrible, I just think that ditching the t-b-t and adding more detail would be hugely beneficial.

Prophet178
November 21st 2009



6397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Twilight sucked, but the rest of the series was worse?"


It should be "Twilight sucked, but the rest of the series is worse?," that was my point.

Ah Wretched World, I forgot Mookie did vocals and synth for that song.

fromtheinside
November 21st 2009



17714 Comments


but the title track is liek teh best thing eva!!!

Digging: Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails

Rationalist
November 21st 2009



880 Comments


@ dave de sylvia:

Thank you! I was listening to the album on my iPod while writing it. No illegal downloading here, just some cheap hot topic cds and some cool invention called uploading. But anyways, thank you for the critique.
How do I "know my shit" out of curiosity?

@ eclectic:
I will think about it, but it will be a long while beofre changes are made as this review is four pages long and I don't feel comfortable with shortening a review from 2147 words to like 600, at least not right now.

@ Prophet178: I see what you mean and will do something about that tomorrow or Sunday.

And how dare you forget W.W.? (war puns)

Rationalist
November 21st 2009



880 Comments


@ emo kid legacy poster:
PHail with a capital PH.

Rationalist
November 21st 2009



880 Comments


http://sputnikmusic.com/album.php?reviewid=33483

you should check out my robinson review better main body and no tbt.
(will delete if this is unallowable)

Rationalist
November 21st 2009



880 Comments


as i said, no editing will be completed until tonight.

Rationalist
November 21st 2009



880 Comments


going to think about the review, do some possible editing, which completely contradicts all I've said before, don't fuck up this thread too badly, alright?

Rationalist
November 21st 2009



880 Comments


edited.... any new thoughts?

Prophet178
November 21st 2009



6397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A lot better dude. I think we can all agree that it reads sooo much better without the tedious track by track.

Eclectic
November 21st 2009



3302 Comments


Now I'll pos, that was a good review, well done.

erasedcitizen
November 21st 2009



716 Comments


Excellent job Rationalist, but really, you didn't need to ask "how do I know my shit exactly?" What are you a Harvard student or something? You may take that as both an insult to character and intelligence but some would argue the latter is untrue, and I agree in certain cases.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
November 21st 2009



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pretty good review. Although we have the same rating I actually disagree with a lot of your points, the title track for exampe is probably my favourite here



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy