Review Summary: Converge's sixth album is typically fantastic, featuring all of their trademarks while still sounding new and fresh.
At this point in their career, it's pretty much a given that any record that Converge release is going to be something fairly special. In the 16 years that they've been a band, they've yet to release a record that is anything less than great and over that period, their consistency has become their most predictable quality. That said, anyone who is even slightly familar with Converge will tell you that their music is anything but predictable. No Heroes
, the band's sixth album and second release on Epitaph is certainly no exception.
Kurt Ballou - Guitar
Jacob Bannon - Vocals
Nate Newton - Bass
Ben Koller - Drums
In stark contrast to the moderately ambient opening of their last record, You Fail Me
, No Heroes
begins with the doomy chords of "Heartache", which lasts for just a few seconds before the onslaught of ridiculously fast riffing and drumming begins. Jacob Bannon screams with the intensity that he is so well known for and does not let up until the album's fifth track, "Weight of the World". Unlike the soundscapes and slightly more ambient textures that were present on You Fail Me
, the first four tracks of No Heroes
are simply four short blasts (the longest of which is 1:43) that succeed in beating the listener's ear to a pulp.
Of course, that's not to say that No Heroes
is all just short blasts of ass-kickery. In fact, quite the opposite is true. "Grim Heart/Black Rose" is the album's centrepiece and lasts for just over 9 minutes. The track features the guest vocals of Jonah Jenkins (of Only Living Witness) and his soaring high voice recalls doom metal band Candlemass, specifically their album Nightfall
. Of course, it wouldn't quite be a Converge song without the presence of Jacob Bannon and his distinctive scream makes a welcome appearance towards the track's end. Musically, the track takes its time to build to enormous heights, the final minute of the song being and enormous climax of guitars, drums, feedback and Jacob Bannon's familar shriek. "Grim Heart/Black Rose" is followed by "Orphaned", one of the album's more melodic tracks and, a little later, "Trophy Scars", one of the band's best songs and arguably Bannon's best ever vocal performance.
Perhaps, above all else, the most amazing thing about Converge is how few negative things people have to say about them. Whether it's the unrestrained emotion that is always present in their music, the jaw dropping technicality of the band's three musicians or their overwhelmingly consistency, it seems that Converge really can do no wrong. Whether they're playing slow sludge-metal("Plagues"), fast noisy punk ("Hellbound"), chaotic metalcore ("Lonewolves") 10-minute epics ("Grim Heart/Black Rose") or melodic emo ("Orphaned"), Converge display an unparalled mastery of heavy music. For someone who hasn't been impressed by the rest of Converge's catalogue, No Heroes
probably isn't going to do a lot to convince them. But for the rest of us, fans and newcomers alike, No Heroes
is an amazing piece of work without a single second of mediocrity.
Grim Heart/Black Rose
Final Rating: 4/5