Converge – ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’

There is no doubt about it, Converge have been one of the most influential and imitated extreme bands of the last two and a half decades – their mix of hardcore and heavy metal having been credited as giving birth to what we now know as ‘metalcore’ (fuck, they’ve a lot to answer for, haven’t they?): but, this latter assertion is a misnomer, as the Massachusetts have always been the innovators that legions of others have sought to follow, always pushing the envelope that little bit further with each new album (where their younger imitators have been content to regurgitate the same old crap over and over again), and always redefining and re-imaging the non-existent subgenre into which they have been pigeonholed by those less educated than either the band or the vast majority of their rabidly faithful fans…

So, what would they do to push the boundaries on this, their eighth studio album? Well, not much: not that they had to – they really only had to produce an opus that was not necessarily genre-making as genre-defining, one which cemented their reputation and their position as standing head and shoulders above any pretender to the crown they have held, proudly, for the past 20 years… and that is exactly what they have done.

(Oh, they have made one important change – gone are the collaborations which have been a feature of every Converge album to date).

So, what is the result? Well, ‘Aimless Arrow’ defies its title by kicking off proceedings with an aim more accurate and deadlier than a Cruise missile, vocalist Jacob Bannon spitting and snarling his lyrics with unrestrained venom and violence, while Kurt Ballou’s guitar weaves and winds the main riffing with a superbly timed demonstration of how to combine punk ferocity with progressive subtlety. ‘Trespasses’ is a much simpler affair – blatant, effective hardcore punk backed up by brutal death metal style drumming from Ben Koller, whose performance throughout can only be described as amazing, and which is perfectly complemented by Nate Newton’s ever efficient bass work – while ‘Tender Abuse’ tends more towards the latter and the former, a brief, hard-hitting slice of first class no nonsense hardcore.

‘Sadness Comes Home’ has a slightly AC/DC feel to its central chorus riff and breakdown, while ‘Empty On The Inside’ mixes a middle section almost redolent of Korn with its overall brutal punkishness, while the atmospheric progressiveness in the first half of ‘Glacial Pace’ does see them veering into what most people would recognize as metalcore territory – but, of course, Converge do it so much better… The middle section is dominated by Converge’s characteristic short, sharp stabs of brutality, from the frenetic 51-second frenzy of ‘No Light Escapes’ through the industrial, almost Manson-esque ‘Vicious Muse’ to the funked up intro of the subsequently furious ‘Veins And Veils’ – three tracks which, altogether, are more or less the same length as the two tracks which bracket them, the aforesaid ‘Glacial Pace’ and the brooding, disharmonised, nihilistic ‘Coral Blue’, which again contrasts with the blastbeat fury of ‘Shame In The Way’, with its jangled, discordant riff.

One of the album’s highlights is ‘On My Shield’, which starts off with a thunderous, almost contemplative bass-led riff and quickly accelerates into a chaotic, furious beatdown, mirroring its subject matter with its intensity and aggression. And then the album takes another complete turn, with the appropriately doomy ‘Precipice’ which gradually evolves into the acerbic, annihilistic title track – one of the best songs Converge have ever recorded! ‘Runaway’ takes the album towards its close at suitably breakneck speed, but still manages to cram in loads of melody and even some Middle Eastern touches (thus reprising the intro to ‘Glacial Pace’), while closer ‘Predatory Glow’ mixes together much of what has gone before, in terms of accelerating and decelerating, and its mix of dark broodiness and catchy punk riffs, as to sum up the album in its final two and a half minutes or so….


Track listing:
1. Aimless Arrow
2. Trespasses
3. Tender Abuse
4. Sadness Comes Home
5. Empty On The Inside
6. Sparrow’s Fall
7. Glacial Pace
8. No Light Escapes
9. Vicious Muse
10. Veins And Veils
11. Coral Blue
12. Shame In The Way
13. On My Shield
14. Precipice
15. All We Love We Leave Behind
16. Runaway
17. Predatory Glow

‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ is released today (Monday October 8th) on Epitaph Records.

Converge play the following dates in the UK and Ireland in November:

25th – Koko, London
26th – O2 Academy 2, Birmingham
27th – Arts Centre, Colchester
28th – Classic Grand, Glasgow
29th – Academy 2, Manchester
30th – The Button Factory, Dublin
December 1st – Concorde 2, Brighton

Converge photograph by Thomas Sweertvaegher.

About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff