Review Summary: A fantastic album that is let down by one song and its own hype.
Jane Doe is supposedly THE Converge album. It is listed as one of the metalcore albums that everyone should hear by almost everybody that you speak to about the band, and is frequently cited as being among the best releases in its genre, if not the best. It is a release that had a lot to live up to given that the past two releases by this band got highly praised, and almost succeeds, although fails to live up to the hype that surrounds it quite as well as it should do.
One of my favorite things about this album is the lyrics. Whilst this was previously one of my major complaints about the band, on Jane Doe, Jacob gets them just right. They are flooded with emotion whilst every song tells a story of its own, and really add to the sound of the band. You can not really understand what is being said in the songs without the lyric booklet, but Jacob also puts in a fantastic performance with his tortured screams that sound like a constipated Kung-Fu master. He is one of the best vocalists in metalcore, and his style is just so unique and something you won't hear anywhere else.
The instrumental performances here are all exceedingly tight as well. The drumming is all over the place, like Dave Lombardo on speed or an acid trip, and it really suits the rest of the instruments. Whilst on the album that preceded this the instruments sounded a little dull at times and unable to keep any momentum going, this album is stellar throughout. The riffs are intense, very technical and super enjoyable, and the bass adds on to this with some great thumping in the background. The messed up song structures that Converge have always employed are back here, to give the impression of sheer musical chaos that every member of the band adds to very well with some of the best performances in their career. It is just a shame that this album gets so overhyped. It really does fall victim to this, and at the end of the album you will say "yeah it's awesome but I was expecting more".
Hell To Pay is the one song here that really lets the bunch down however and is the reason for a score of 4 out of 5. It is a lot slower than the rest of the album and this would be acceptable if it kept any manner of groove going. However, the instrumentals are all very underwhelming across the board and the vocals could do with some improvement. Thankfully, the rest of the album makes up for this from the opener through to the title track which really makes great use of its extended running time.
Jane Doe is an album that is not quite as good as it is hyped up to be but still should remain a staple of any metalcore fan's ipod or playing device.