Review Summary: A satisfying purchase, despite being a rather unengaging listen.
“Patience” is a concept I have never been able to fully grasp. When I desire something, “patiently” waiting for it is hardly ever an option. One band that has me impatiently slamming my head against a wall in anticipation for a new LP is Converge, a legendary hardcore band from Massachusetts. Given that Converge have not yet made a statement on the status of their next LP, it is hard to be overly-excited about the band’s newest release, a limited 7” EP entitled Live At the BBC
. While it is not, by any stretch, what fans have been craving impatiently since Converge’s last LP in 2012, this live EP has a surprisingly adequate amount to offer.
Recorded August 2010 at BBC’s Maida Vale Studio in London, Live At the BBC
contains four renditions of tracks taken from their albums You Fail Me
and Axe to Fall
. Although the songs themselves are undoubtedly stellar, the album’s sound quality leaves something to be desired. The bass and drums generally stand out above all else on each song, often muddying the vocals and obscuring the guitars to the point where the riff becomes difficult to make out. As a result, each song loses much of its vigor during their intense sections, making the chorus of “Dark Horse” and the entirety of “Axe to Fall” sound extremely dull. Only “Damages” is unscathed by the production, likely due the song’s bass-driven nature. The album’s highlight, however, is closer “Hanging Moon.” Unlike the studio version on You Fail Me
, this self-described “rare” rendition of “Hanging Moon” features electric guitars as opposed to acoustic. As one can expect, this completely alters the tone of the song, causing it to sound darker and grittier than its counterpart, which leaned more towards the melodic and emotional side of the spectrum. Despite its brief running time, the electrified version of “Hanging Moon” gives the song new insight, and is truly a fascinating listen for die hard fans of Converge’s work. As for the band’s performance on the album, there is little to complain about. Each member displays a jaw-dropping amount of energy on every track, especially vocalist Jacob Bannon whose delivery ranges from high-pitched moans to grotesque, low-pitched growls. Drummer Ben Koller puts forth a commendable effort as well, with aggressive drumbeats highlighting every song. In spite of the band’s excellent performance on the album, however, the overall sound quality of the music is rather unremarkable.
As far as EPs go, Live At the BBC
is far from an essential purchase. For fans who simply cannot get enough Converge, however, this EP may be worth every penny. Clearly, the music itself is only a secondary reason to buy the album; if one were to purchase this, he or she is most likely doing so for its value as a collectible. In fact, it can be argued that the artwork alone makes the album worth purchasing. Without a doubt, Live At the BBC
’s artwork is among one of the most breathtakingly gorgeous album covers to be released in recent years, and a 7” vinyl displaying such a cover will likely become a much sought-after collector’s item in the near future. In addition, the inclusion of an electrified rendition of “Hanging Moon” also gives the album a unique identity, as the electrified track is found nowhere else in the band’s discography.
The album's sound quality is detrimentally flawed, and its running length (clocking in at under ten minutes) is tragically brief. However, the rarity of the songs themselves, coupled with the bands energetic performance, is enough to make Live At the BBC
a satisfying purchase and a worthwhile addition to a dedicated fan’s library. Plus, there’s always that lovely, lovely artwork...