I take a sense of pride in saying that the four-piece metal band Converge is from no more than 30 minutes away from where I live. It’s not that I am saying that it makes the music coming out of my area any better, it’s just that it’s nice to be able to listen to such a great piece of music as their latest release Axe To Fall
is and know that it isn’t from some country thousands of miles across the ocean or a spawn of other scenes from the other side of my own nation. Converge is an act which takes their music with a restrained, albeit very intense, sense of seriousness and it shows. A very matured and controlled feeling of complete chaos lies within each and every guitar riff and drum beat, each scream is brought forth with the sincerest emotion and every lyric penned with a certain issue in mind about life as a whole.
It sounds very complicated and such, but when you listen to the music it really shines through as no descriptive words could, because amidst the complete and utter chaos there are moments of beauty which take the listener aback, and when songs like “Cruel Bloom” play it makes you really think about what exactly Converge is trying to convey with this album. Axe To Fall
isn’t another Jane Doe
, in fact comparisons between the two should be negated because each album is different in its own right. Axe To Fall
is a step above the band’s other works in terms of maturity, and also in terms of musicianship. The melting of hardcore punk and extreme metal which Converge is so renowned for in the underground scene is slowly leaking its way into the brighter world of the bigger-name independent labels while still maintaining an attitude and tone which would deceive newcomers to the band into thinking the sound to be a more unknown vibe.
The opening portion of the album consists of what every single person who listens to Converge wants to hear: a ringing bass line transcending into a brilliantly progressive guitar riff, an atmosphere which immediately brings to mind the beauty yet unshackled brutality of such songs as “Concubine” or “Jane Doe”. However, it is immediately apparent that this is a different animal entirely as the vocals wind their way around the inhuman shrieking, punk-inspired chanting, and even borderline clean singing. The song structures are completely unpredictable and change with each passing song, going from the neck-breaking title track to the weaving epic that is “Wretched World”. The complex guitar riffs churn out both punishing chords and more harmonious melodies which are both insanely complex and god damn catchy. The bass is, thankfully, remembered, because the tone of bassist Nate Newton is simply wonderful and the production is key in highlighting this essential attribute to the crucial low-end of Converge’s sound. Also, another key element of Converge’s low-end is the highly technical but always fluent drumming, creating wonderful but complex polyrhythmic beats which compliment the unrelenting technicality of the guitars with utter perfection.
If there is any off-putting element in Axe To Fall
it's that some of the best moments of the album disappear far too quickly. “Dark Horse” was such a good track that when it ended, it left me hung on the fact that I wanted more of that brilliant lead riff, and I wanted more of the heavily punk-influenced vocal department. Sure, it’s very dense material, but if you aren’t looking for an impenetrable wall of music, and you aren’t willing to wade around in the mud to find the pieces of gold that lie within, why listen to Converge at all? The less-memorable songs like “Effigy” and “Slave Driver” are totally overshadowed by the more grandiose compositions, but will likely make their way with time to the lists of your favorites.
Axe To Fall
is simply an album which must be digested in order to really land its point and let it shine through. Through everything that Converge bring to the table, there is a sense of order and meaning lingering in the background to each and every song, it just takes the right ear to be able to capture it. However, if you do, Axe To Fall
is one of the, if not the, most enjoyable metal release in the past year or two. It is an infinitely rewarding album to listen to, all the while being an album which really doesn’t need to be listened to in its entirety every single time. Very manageable track lengths will allow you to dissect multiple songs within a short period of time, and when all is said and done, you are simply left smiling at what you have just heard. It is an auditory tour-de-force the likes of which many bands in the world cannot replicate, but it is a sound which Converge has, time and again, conveyed.