Review Summary: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of th"CONVERGE!
Stars aligned during an European tour in 2016 in the way that cosmic forces send entire planets into black holes and galaxies die. Little is known about the invisible strings that tie our minds and hearts to one another in the presence of the unknown, and not every chosen path, and the million possibilities that stem from every twist of fate, can be explained by reason or logic. In other words: sometimes, you just have to let it happen.
Converge had a feeling during that tour, a strong one, a powerful desire of dragging the likes of Ben Chrisholm, Chelsea Wolfe's eternal partner in crime, to make him become one with the entity they have been part of for more than 30 years now. Needless to say, Wolfe didn't think for a second she would miss the chance either. As ties strengthened and new emotional connections were built between them, the tour reached an end. It all culminated with one of those things that can only happen in Tilburg's Roadburn festival. The same grounds that gave birth to Emma Ruth Rundle collaborative affairs with sludge troopers Thou had also witnessed Mariner
, the child of Swedish post metal masters Cult of Luna and certified banshee Julie Christmas, being performed in the flesh. It was the perfect scenario for a magical reinterpretation of Converge classics in which Chelsea Wolfe and Ben Chrisholm would take the Salem collective's music to somewhere beyond, but that wouldn’t have been entirely possible without the addition of another key element: the ever-present, ever-charming Steve Brodsky, OG Converge man and friendest of friends. The Dutch stage was ready to witness a performance for the ages and footage of the event shows it did. The phenomenon came to be referred to as "Blood Moon", and after it shook the festival on that spring night in 2016, nothing was ever known about it.
What happened that night was enrapturing, thrilling, so it was no surprise that Converge, Chelsea Wolfe, Ben Chrisholm and Steve Brodsky willingly managed to keep the flame lit for years to come, with doors wide open in all fronts for possible future endeavors. They realized they had created something unique on that Roadburn stage; a fellowship which was believed, by every part involved, that could work not only as an extension of Converge but also as the vessel for brand new material. Kurt Ballou's God City Studios in Salem, Massachusetts, served as the headquarters for the newly formed collective to work on brand new music. It was late 2019 and as you all know, while the pandemic did its best to eclipse the world, the blood moon wouldn't entirely vanish. Fortunately, no virus was gonna stop Converge and co. in their attempt to capture the magic of the first time. As tracks and takes travelled safely around virtual channels, Blood Moon I
ascended in the night, effectively, as the new Converge album featuring (heavily if you may) Chelsea Wolfe, Ben Chrisholm, and Steve Brodsky.
As you would expect, every name has left its mark on the being of this record. Blood Moon I
combines the raging fury of Converge with the gravitational heaviness of Cave In and the enthralling witchery gloom of Chelsea Wolfe. If you ever have questioned yourself how would Jacob Bannon sound if he was fronting Cave In or how would Chelsea Wolfe unfold her spellbinding melodies over a Converge neck-fracturing beat, you’ll find the answers to these questions within the first few tracks.
"Blood Moon", the first song that served as the official presentation of this new iteration of Converge, lays the foundations of the album with Bannon muttering the first verses like a blood-drained tormented lunatic while Wolfe's soul-stirring voice does her best to tame Nate Newton and Ben Koller's sluggish pounding. Kurt Ballou and Steve Brodsky sustain their strings in a continuous trance in the back, soon reinforced by Ben Chrisholm's empyrean synth work. The build-up leads to an explosive finale around the five minute mark that is the kind that makes a piloerection live up to its name. It’s a generous spoonful of what the Converge collective has cooked, but also just a small taste compared to what is yet to come. Within fifteen seconds, "Viscera of Men '' clears out any doubts of Blood Moon I
being a Converge album. The old wrath is unleashed, and sadly never revisited, because this is not the same old Converge anymore, but the enhanced, amplified voice of past echoes like "Eve" or even "Jane Doe”, songs where the band showed they were ready to succumb to their most esoteric side, and it's with the addition of Wolfe, Chrisholm and Brodsky that they have allowed themselves to do so, channeling colossal soundscapes as well as moments of frail melancholy that paint the grandiosity of their newfound vision.
It also warms the heart to hear the love that Blood Moon I
shows for Cave In. Entire tracks are dedicated to the sound of the legends from Methien, with "Failure Forever" being the clearest and closest to the band's last transmission. Also worth mentioning is "Flower Moon'', a track that exists like a Cave In mannequin dressed with the kind of gothic horror only found in the depths of Chrisholm’s and Wolfe’s wardrobe. Good ol' Converge hasn't entirely disappeared either. "Tongues Playing Dead'' is a throwback to the Axe to Fall
era, an album that the band has admittedly said it was meant to become a Concave/Verge In sort of spawn of the two bands, and that resulted in songs that eventually became part of that album. Highlight "Lord of Liars" combines beautifully one of the best vocal melodies Chelsea Wolfe has ever weaved with Converge's mathy hardcore, becoming the axis of the album, and the vestibule of a second half largely dominated by Mrs. Wolfe.
"Scorpion's Sting" could’ve been included in Wolfe’s Hiss Spun
, a dark, bluesy, moody semi-ballad that bleeds into the aforementioned "Daimon", which would be the ultimate representation of this union, a song that even screams Old Man Gloom to a whirlwind of influences too intense and intertwined to dissect. "Crimson Stone" could be Converge's love letter to Chelsea, an invitation for the songstress to take hold of a poignant arpeggio, which she does with her usual alluring magic, combining her touching singing with Jake and Steve's calm backing in this stunning track where even piano and strings are brought in before the second half evolves into an ecstatic chorus.
"Blood Dawn" is the track in charge of closing this first manifestation of the blood moon, and it does so once more with Wolfe at the helm of a nurturing lullaby that, once again, could have been part of her own catalogue. While the essence of Wolfe's music does bleed profusely into the eleven tracks that form Blood Moon I
, it's also worth highlighting how Ben Chrisholm makes his presence felt on the record, with every arrangement he adds to the songs being tastefully engraved into the core of every track.
I am certain that Blood Moon I
will push the limits of disbelief for many veteran Converge fans, but it’s a development in their sound that’s been a long time coming, and that it has finally been realized here masterfully. At the same time, Blood Moon I
will grace those who, like myself, thought Cave In was done for. Instead, its essence has been incorporated into Converge in a way only Steve Brodsky could have thought of. Finally, Blood Moon I
is also the heaviest and most impressive expression of Chelsea Wolfe and Ben Chrisholm's music, powered by the incombustible force of Converge and the everlasting spirit of Cave In, and resulting in one of the most impressive collaborations of this kind. Blood Moon I
is, truly, an essential album for 2021, and may all celestial bodies allow me this infatuated omen: the beginning of something very special.