Review Summary: Riddled with my faults and fractures
The poor production might dress this as up as poorly-crafted slop, but Converges demo Gravel
is far from bad. Sure it sound nothing like Jane Doe
or even their earlier material a la Halo In a Haystack
but its a damn fine example of a youthful Bannon and co. exploring the more hardcore elements of their sound.
Above all, Bannons vocal evolution has been Converges defining factor. Here he literally barks his way through songs, occasionally sings during jangly string breaks and around 50% of the time aided by gang vocals, a principle of any 90's hardcore band and no stranger on Gravel
. It's just as diverse as Petitioning the Empty Sky
in this regard, eschewing duck-squawks and moaning chants for a more straightforward but no less savage approach. You've never heard Bannon like this before, a raging beast writhing to escape the comparatively tame songs he's given to work with here.
Not that these songs are bad. Obviously in the post Jane Doe
era everyone expects classics from this band, so disappointment is all anyone is gonna get from this. If you treat this as a non-Converge album, it's actually a lot more impressive. But, considering that it is one of their record, it's inevitably a little shocking to hear such lightweight riffs and timid drums as the mainframe for a band stripped of their technicality and progressive flair. Instead, the songs thrive off groove, and the moments where there is none offer nothing but dogged crust punk-cum-cheesy metalcore. Luckily there's enough of that crucial element to make this a worthwhile addition to the bands discography.