Converge’s 2001 album Jane Doe is generally considered to be their masterpiece. Finding them at the height of their exposure, it was the pinnacle and distillation of over a decade of metallic hardcore. Combining cut-throat riffs, densely layered songs, Jake Bannon’s distinctive screech and a hell of a lot of blood, sweat and tears. There was significant expectation placed on the followup (and major label debut) You Fail Me.
Choosing to defy expectation, the band cut a more unassuming record, harkening back to their early career Amphetamine Reptile Records influences, Unsane, Today Is The Day, and the Jesus Lizard. You Fail Me was an insistent and simple album, initially unimpressive it grew with every listen and had a monstrous bass-tone anchoring the thrashing hardcore punk.
This could well be the most furious Converge recording since the emotional shitstorm that was When Forever Comes Crashing. Marrying that intensity with all the complex production tricks they’ve learned since and the thunderous attack of You
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Fail Me (the first six tracks here all go for the throat at under two minutes apiece), this also displays the ambition that made Jane Doe the benchmark
for a whole genre.
Album centrepiece, the nine-minute ‘Grim Heart/Black Rose’ even manages to rock some Cave In styled clean vocals while building to its monstrous climax. While the second half of the album treads more familiar territory for the band, each track hits its mark. The wailing “I wanna live/I wanna die” refrain of ‘Trophy Scars’ echoes vintage Steve Austin and closing tune ‘To The Lions’ doesn’t relent for one second. It’s not surprising they went for a fade out, because if that song just stopped dead and cut to silence, it could be enough to drive listeners to spontaneous violence.
With No Heroes, Converge have once again proven they won’t rest on any perceived laurels, they just keep getting heavier and dare I say it; better.