Review Summary: While it may sound nothing like the Converge many love today, Caring and Killing’s finest tracks stand among the best in the band’s catalog.
At this point in Converge’s career, what more is there for me to say about them? They’ve been hailed by many as one of the most important and impressive groups in the metalcore genre. Jane Doe
has deeply impacted the lives of almost all who stumble upon it, and just about every other project the band has been a part of receives accolade after accolade. But just what did Converge exactly sound like before their band would reach the greatness they are known for today? Caring and Killing
is just that; a solid summary of Converge’s early days. The songwriting and riffs are much simpler than they are now, but the energy is ever-present.
The band have called themselves “hardcore kids with leftover Slayer riffs”, and I’m not about to disagree with this statement. The album’s opening instrumental track “Shallow Breathing” starts off with a constant chug pattern right before introducing a lead that would sound right at home on South of Heaven
. It’s almost scary how accurate that comparison is, at least on this album. One of Caring and Killing
’s strongest attributes is the seamless combination of genres, which many different fans of metal and hardcore can find pleasure in. There’s the devastating thrash riffs, simple-yet-effective breakdowns to appease the hardcore/metalcore crowd and even melodic elements of post-hardcore scattered about at times. Damn near every track on here changes its sound at least once, so things feel fresh for the majority of the time.
From an instrumental perspective Caring and Killing
is pretty consistent. Many current fans of the band may not like the fact that Kurt Ballou and Ben Koller are not present, but don’t let that dampen your listening experience. This album’s sixteen tracks just keep bringing the riffs, and hard. While I normally enjoy the dissonant, disgusting sounding riffs of modern Converge, many of the melodic guitar leads on here simply rule. “Two Day Romance” and “Divinity” are the first two tracks to come to mind; their incredibly melodic nature creates an almost beautiful atmosphere. It’s pretty good stuff to say the least. While the drums and bass are nothing to really focus on, they keep the album moving…but there’s not much else to say really. The bass could stand to have a bit more presence and crunch, because this time around it’s usually pretty hard to hear.
Jacob Bannon: God’s gift to metalcore. While that may seem like a bit of a bold statement, it’s not too far from the truth. Bannon’s signature insane and barked screams are one of the most powerful in modern music. Caring and Killing
brings you yet another amazing vocal performance for almost the entirety of the record (“Savior Salvation” is just stupid), something that’s to be expected by anyone who picks up a Converge record. The appeal of these vocals on this and their other older recordings is that they are completely untampered with. You really feel
the passion behind his screams and it can feel like the man is two feet away from you at a show just letting loose. And though the production of this album might seem a bit raw for some people, it’s also part of the overall atmosphere and appeal and simply works for this early metalcore style.
If you look at this album by each individual song, it’s pretty enjoyable. However, this album simply overstays its welcome. Caring and Killing
is just over an hour in length, making some of the later songs lose their impact that they might have had somewhere else. And while the harsh vocals are always impressive, Bannon’s clean vocals definitely weren’t at their best. “Zodiac” and “Divinity” are examples of this, where there are some pretty cringe-worthy sung parts. These are the only real flaws with the album, but they can be very noticeable and even obnoxious in places.
While this album isn’t near being one of the strongest Converge albums (those would be Jane Doe
and No Heroes
), it’s still a worthy addition to the band’s killer discography and a key part of the group’s evolution. “Two Day Romance” is one of the best examples of post-hardcore and metalcore I have ever heard before and “Yesterday” starts off with a sample from Evil Dead II. Why would you want to miss out on something like that?