Review Summary: With Jane Doe, Converge find themselves trapped inside their own anger.
Being subject to a beating isn't fun. Anyone who has been through that will tell you that it's one of the most horrible things imaginable. Feeling that helpless and weak is a truly terrifying experience. As odd as it may seem, that is exactly what listening to Jane Doe
feels like to me, as throughout the album you are the target of Converge's musical aggression. While this is a thing that a lot of people like about this album, I find it very off-putting. That aggression is also one of the main reasons why Jane Doe
is such an unconventional album and why it has managed to attract so much attention.
With Jane Doe
, Converge tried to make something resembling a concept album, following the life of a woman (the 'Jane Doe') whose life is slowly crashing down. Sadly, if you are able to follow the story, which is an achievement on its own, you'll find that it is in fact quite vague and uncompelling. The lyrics are certainly interesting, but the story they are representing doesn't really get the chance to fully unfold. This is mainly because Jacob Bannon's screams don't quite manage to capture the essence of the story, something which he is more succesful at with his lyrics, which often do manage to recreate different emotions than he is expressing with his vocals. The lyrics themselves could have easily been made into a poem, but on Jane Doe
they stay encased in a golden cage of anger and riffage.
The hesitation, the awkward silence
I felt everything in those seconds
Splinters of sentence and heartless advice
Nothing's changed but these days entwined
The main problem here is that Jacob only expresses one emotion here and that is anger, while the lyrics may point in another direction, or more specifically another kind of emotion. This is confusing because it disconnects the story from the music, which might put off some listeners. The fact that anger is the only emotion that Jacob displays on this album is a little frustrating, since it removes a lot of depth from the songs, and can get monotonous after a while.
From a musical perspective, Jane Doe
is a strange experience, whether it be the wailing vocals, resembling something only your worst nightmare could have produced, or the technical blend of metal/hardcore which is constantly assaulting your ear drums. It's a shame that, unlike what you might expect with so much melodic and experimental input, it tends to get quite boring, which is a weakness that most metalcore bands suffer from. This is because the whole album keeps up the same pace and every track progresses at a more or less similar tone, which makes it hard to distinguish most of the tracks from each other. If you manage to get past that flaw, listening to Jane Doe
still is a very painful listen, simply because the whole album is a constant assault of uncontrolled anger.
The overall feel of Jane Doe
is very hard and painful, but it is hard to truly capture its essence. You can feel the anger and hate rushing through your veins if you listen to it, but if you take away the anger there would be little left and that is this album's downfall. Converge tried and failed, and that is exactly why Jane Doe
is so adequately titled: it's Converge searching for an identity, but ultimately creating an album with little depth.