Review Summary: As a certified classic metalcore album, Converge's "Petitioning the Empty Sky" is one of the most aggressive, most destructive, yet most artistic albums in the entire genre.5 of 5 thought this review was well written
I remember the first time I heard Converge. I remember thinking "people like this?" I thought of it as random gibberish from an insane vocalist and guitar players who didn't know how to write a decent song. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. Converge is one of the strongest, most experimental, most bizarre, and most awesome metalcore bands around. The thing about Converge's music is that despite it's pure aggression, it's very sophisticated, utilizing interesting composition techniques and poetic lyrics. Petitioning the Empty Sky
(widely considered to be Converge's second best album) is unquestionably the band's most digestible release, as the album incorporates less experimental elements, as well as increasing the influence of hardcore on the album.
As every other review of this album seems to say, the best track seems to be the seven minute opening track, "The Saddest Day". It gives you everything Converge has to offer; furious vocals, blistering guitars, metallic bass riffs and blasting drumming. The funny thing about "The Saddest Day" is that it features a breakdown that sounds just like one you would hear in a Slayer song, only better. This breakdown consists of seemingly random guitar soloing with strong, quick tempo instruments to back it up. "The Saddest Day" is probably my favourite Converge track because it showcases all of Converge's best qualities in one song.
Even though the rest of the album is overshadowed by "The Saddest Day", it's still very, very good. Throughout the album, you can hear Slayer-esque riffing, simple hardcore guitar and bass patterns, and Jacob Bannon's unclear but unstoppable vocals. If you buy a Converge album, actually look at the lyrics and see if you can match them up to Bannon's vocals. However, Bannon does use a fair amount of clean vocals, namely on the tracks "Albatross" and "Dead". Even though Bannon's vocals are virtually incomprehensible, his lyrics are absolutely astounding, and I hail Bannon as one of the greatest modern poets I have ever seen. Lyrics are exceptionally beautiful and expressive, with such words as:
I float above and these wings catch, and your sky holds you so beautiful
And I understand if all this comes falling because my sky already has...
- Jacob Bannon's lyrics from the fifth track, "Shingles".
Lead guitarist Kurt Ballou and rhythm guitarist Aaron Dalbec both use their guitars well, with frequent distorted Slayer riffs and simple, dark hardcore punk guitar patterns that really set the mood for moshing. The thing about Converge is that there are NO choruses and virtually NO structure, so you can't really expect what will come from this insane group. Whether it's a mad breakdown or a bitter-sweet soft interlude, you will not be able to predict it. Jeff Feinburg's bass is not completely well noticed, but there's always a sweet bass riff somewhere around the corner. Damon Bellorado's drums are played with great precision, and you can actually hear several simultaneous drum rhythms at some points (e.g. "Color Me Blood Red"). These simultaneous drum rhythms do not crash into each other, but can be distinguished as two, seperate rhythms, and thus do not ruin the flow of the song.
Altogether, each instrument merges into a giant metal juggernaut, making Converge one of the strongest, most powerful bands around. Each song is well composed, and lets each member have a "shining moment", in which they get to show off their musical talents. Even though the album is almost completely filled with blistering metalcore, the first minute of "Dead" shows off Converge's soft side (more or less). Ballou's guitar actually uses some very beautiful riffing (that you would normally see used in a post-hardcore song) while Dalbec's guitar leads the supporting force that plays behind Ballou's guitar and Bannon's clean (but rough) vocals. These qualities are also used in several parts of "Farewell Note to This City", but with a more furious yet more melodic lead guitar. There is also a soft part that begins at around the last third of track three, "Albatross", which sees utilization of some of Bannon's more soft vocals while Ballou's guitar carries out beautiful phrases in the background.
Overall, this is some of Converge's very, very best work. In their sixth year on the metalcore scene, and with the members at an average age of only twenty, they have truly outdone themselves. The thing about this album is that it works really well as a single album, rather than just a collection of individual songs. Each song seems to bridge into the next completely naturally, forming a aggressive album that still flows very smoothly. This album showcases almost all of Converge's qualities in a single album, and is a must have for those that are craving for something a little heavier.
- Well written, Slayer style riffs.
- The instruments work as a single, strong metalcore unit.
- Bannon's lyrics are of a poetic nature, and each lyric is incredibly beautiful and expressive.
- The album works well as whole, which, to me, is a very attractive quality.
- Bannon's vocals are almost completely incomprehensible.
- "The Saddest Day"
- "Buried But Breathing"
- "Farewell Note to This City"
- "Color Me Blood Red"
- "For You" (live)
- "Homesong" (live)