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7 tablatures for Converge


Converge - Axe To Fall (9,5/10) - USA - 2009

Genre: Extreme Metal / Hardcore Metal
Label: Epitaph
Playing time: 42:04
Band homepage: Converge

Tracklist:

  1. Dark Horse
  2. Reap What You Sow
  3. Axe To Fall
  4. Effigy
  5. Worms Will Feed
  6. Wishing Well
  7. Damages
  8. Losing Battle
  9. Dead Beat
  10. Cutter
  11. Slave Driver
  12. Cruel Bloom
  13. Wretched World
Converge - Axe To Fall

It really isn’t difficult to consider Salem’s CONVERGE a legendary band already. While some may balk at such a claim, I submit that in the near 20 years since the band’s inception, their output has been as impressive, influential and altogether crushing as any during that time. They are credited with being one of the bands whose music paved the way for Metalcore (perhaps not something to be proud of with the state of that genre) but also a group who has taken the Punk-Metal crossover and perfected it in ways others could only dream of. From their first outing “Halo In A Haystack”, the band has laid down a gauntlet of chaotic music few can compare to and on “Axe To Fall” they raise the bar and leave others in their genre firmly in the proverbial dust.

 

No need to cover ground I already did in my review of “No Heroes”, suffice to say each album they have produced shifts and matures the sound they strive for each and every time. Using hardcore, thrashy riffs as a loose spine for many of the tracks on “Axe To Fall”, the band then infuses a beefier metallic sound as always, at times veering into near Sludge territory. Jacob Bannon’s vocal prowess is bolstered by a clearer, easier to discern mode than some of the past recordings but don’t for a second think that lessons his ferocity; he is still vicious in his delivery, even in the songs where the band slows down. His vocals shift within the speedier songs from outright menacingly deep screams to a near melodic tone on cuts like “Slave Driver”. The variation, though not disparate, give the album a breathing room to explore the vast moods on the record. Again slashing and cutting his way to hell, guitarist Kurt Ballou does what he does best: laying down ripping Hardcore riffs with dense walls of power, and his sublime penchant for odd, discordant offshoots and licks. You can hear the twangs and left field slashing notes which he incorporated so well on “You Fail Me” all over the new album, a great example being “Worms Will Feed” which is a near avant-garde outing that has some magical harmonic note playing. With his usual dexterity and technical mastery, drummer Ben Koller absolutely tears it up on the record. Never given enough credit, Koller shows an ability to shift from the frenzied battering of the punkier tracks, to brawny, intricate work on the cuts like “Damages” and when the last songs require it, he shows a nice, deft touch.

 

Although their masterful 2001 release “Jane Doe” still stands as a milestone in both the genre and band’s repartee, “Axe To Fall” may just be their most complex album to date. This is not just because of the last two tracks but also the ability to impeccably bond the Punk, Metal and experimental aspects that have become to define CONVERGE. However, the final two songs need special mention. On the entire album the band enlists a plethora of fellow musicians, too many to list but members of GHENGIS TRON, THE RED CHORD, and DISFEAR to name a few. It is on “Cruel Bloom” however that this is used in the most beneficial way, with the unmistakable vocals of NEUROSIS’ Steve von Till. His crackled, rasp is the perfect compliment to the wonderfully depressing, melancholic tone of guitars and piano. Till conveys this mood perfectly in his smoky voice, which does not sound dissimilar to 70’s TOM WAITS (one of, if not my favourite artist of all time). At the climax of the song is a crescendo of epic proportions, with a thunderous blast of force when the distorted guitars kick in, and von Till going into a throttling vocal display. To end the record CONVERGE roll out a dreamy and surprisingly engaging slow track of melody and experimental sound in “Wretched World”. Perhaps too mellow or melodic for some fans, it is for me a perfect end to such a layered and superbly challenging album. One of 2009’s best records and one of the finest in the last few years.

(Online December 25, 2009)

Stephen Rafferty



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