Review Summary: What the future could mean- burn at both ends...W
hen lurking around this site I always feel emancipated when reading a Converge review. It doesn't matter which album I go through in there 20 year existence but I get such a sense of admiration from the writers and I'm not afraid to admit that I almost envy some of the things stated- being a musician myself. I've been through hardships and love lost but a Converge album usually makes me re-think how "bad" my experiences really could've been. I'm still that person who buys physical CD's and looks through the linear notes and artwork. Converge releases a full package every time and never skimps on the details. I'm getting older now and I find myself slowly fleeting out of this genre of music (whatever you want to categorize it) but I was intrigued by this release. I pondered what the guys from Salem were up too since I religiously listened too "Halo in a Haystack"
to "You Fail Me"
. I had a falling out with the last two releases which left a somewhat bad taste in my mouth but I'll always give such an influential band another chance at redemption. I'm glad I did.
All We Love We Leave Behind
I truly believe I'm in the minority in saying that of course "Jane Doe"
is considered the critical acclaimed classic but my second favorite album in the discography was and has been "You Fail Me"
. I fell in love with the atmospheric elements and milder annotations along with the same refreshing passion. With the title track "You Fail Me"
I just felt such a sense of solidity and agony that only few artists could appreciate through the brash vocals which feature but don't always showcase clever and wholehearted lyrics. With "All We Love We Leave Behind" I feel that my two favorite Converge albums have had a baby.
The flow of this album is seemless and silky smooth which makes it hard to believe that it's 17 tracks. You will thoroughly want to listen to it from start to finish and take it as a whole and not 17 split up tracks on one album. "All We Love We Leave Behind"
feels completed and steadfast which is what I felt lacking in the last two releases. The songs offer an eccentric variety of sounds. While the album doesn't pummel the listen half as hard as "Jane Doe"
did it does offer up it's fair share of moments where the listener (if they have) will reminisce the feeling they got the first time they listened to "Jane Doe"
The one/two punch of "Aimless Arrow"
nearly floored me at first listen and took me back while analyzing the album. It had the taste of "Concubine/Fault and Fracture"
with a softer contrast to face pummeling effect. It was hard for me to believe "Aimless Arrow"
since the song touches a tight constructed writing process along with melodic, spoken, vocals. A part of me at this point got worried that this was going to be "You Fail Me" 2.0v. It worried me more because I know a lot of long time fans were too fond of that release and it's listener friendly approach. I'm not too sure how older fans would appreciate that but towards the end and into "Trespasses"
the album begins to spiral into a whirlwind. The trade thrashy and fast signature Converge is known for transcends. If you thought this was going to be a "softie" album like "You Fail Me"
the listener thinks twice from this point forward. Jacob Bannon doesn't feel like he ever ages through each album. While the production of the album is more refined then the brash recordings of the 90's you can still appreciate the sense of chaos that is displayed. While it sounds refined and mixed there is still a sense of raw sludge. The vocal delivery is one of his finest performances with emphasis on the parts that need an exclamation part (or three) and subtly spoken in parts that just click right into place. Clicking into place is something Converge does so well and it's what makes this album feel so substantial and complete.
The instrumentals on this are gratifying. I loved the choice of tones for every major instrument and actually enjoy the production value on this album. "Empty On The Inside"
has an interlude which breaks away from the action that really showcases the bands talent. I love how muddy the bass tone can seem and then in this one part just rumbles through with the sharp beat of the snare. Kurt Ballou really outdoes himself on this album (who is usually already a solid combatant). From the controlled feedback that always feel tasteful and never forced to the multiple guitar solo's that left me wondering why this band didn't take this direction sooner and faster. As it might hurt the appeal of the listener who wanted a real metalcore- bash your face in and mosh to every song at every moment I love the clarity exhibited. The introduction for "Sadness Comes Home" I would love to hear in person as I love the sliding parts that lead to a frantic tap hook. It just feels like he went to town on that song and I love how speeds the album up to a track runner like pace. The group continues on with polyrhythmic drumming that at times feels like the drum set is sitting right behind you. Various moments will have you feel every thump of the kick drum and slam of the stick. If your a fan of this music I don't see how Ben Koller couldn't in your top 5 drummers. He's a staple in this group that keeps a grove and can make chaotic parts feel like explosions in your ears. It all goes to the main point feeling like that at any moment this band is going to self destruct and they do so- so well. Different listeners will climax at different times and some might multiple times.
Further into the album explores more experimental sides but never really loses the main focus. When you think that they might slip into a boundary and not come back- they don't fail. "Vicious Muse"
starting off almost sounds like a generic rock song with a stand along drum beat then when you think you might be listening to the wrong band the feedback swells in and blows the top off. Moments are memorable and many- it more or less depends on what kind of background your coming from and your expectations. I went into this album doing my best to make believe this was a brand new band that never had a release before and honestly if it was it'd prob blow my mind even more then it already has. "Coral Blue"
will probably be a song of topic to many fans... It's slow, sludgey, and stands out to me as one of the biggest build ups on the album. The spoken lyrics sound haunting and dark. The interlude of this song has a flash of reverb on a solo guitar which showcases the progression Kurt has taken from earlier days. While the riffs always felt technical and ripping I don't think anyone could've predicted the confidence that is displayed throughout the album. It's almost like he's enticing the listener to do him one better with each and every song.
The songs in this album are like pieces of a puzzle and each piece just feels a little bit different (some more than others). The music here is just gripping whether it be around your throat or heart because both will happen at certain points. It would be hard for me to phantom how any artist wouldn't be able to take something away from this album. This band is as legendary as they come now and each member is still firing on all cylinders. If somehow you missed out listening to this band in the last 2 decades- do yourself a favor and explore openly. I don't believe Converge has bad releases but I felt a misfire in direction for the last 2 releases. For the first time in a few releases I feel that it's as close to "Jane Doe"
benchmark that it may ever be. If I didn't look at the track listing I really wouldn't care or know the name of the tracks because if it was one long song it just flourishes as it goes on. Converge isn't for everybody and it's one of the hardest bands I listened to back in the day. I felt a feeling that seems to get lost and blurred by the constant releases of filler albums riddled with breakdowns. If you're looking for something that's hard edged and emotive I'm not sure how you can go wrong with this album. It tips its hat to the past and takes one large step forward that feels like something this genre needed more then ever.