Friday, April 9, 2010

Converge - Axe To Fall

Right from the second you push “play” on your stereo or MP3 player, it becomes clear that Converge is the love/hate band to end all love/hate bands, thanks to vocals that are so indecipherable that, my theory goes, the brain doesn’t even attempt to try and decipher them into discernible words like it will with death/black vocal styles; musicality that’s borderline and broodingly vicious at its tamest and downright schizophrenic at its wildest; song structures that defy explanation.

They’re also the ultimate album band. Taken individually, Converge songs are at best fragmented, and at worst just sheer noise, even to someone used to extreme music. But taken as a whole, their albums paint a picture of a harsh, urban landscape, almost poetic in its omnipresent violence. I really have to be in the right mood to enjoy Converge, but when I am, wow – what an effect.

So this, Converge’s latest opus, is my personal favourite of their catalogue, blending their (very, very) hardcore framework with a greater dose of metallic riffwork, leading to a more memorable and melodic base. But even then, the melodies just seem “not quite right”; stuff like the lead near the start of Dark Horse could even disorient you if you’re not paying attention, in that it sounds just a step “off” – but somehow, it all works.

After such a hardline assault, the album climaxes with two sludgy, gruesome monsters; listened to under the right conditions, slow-burners Cruel Bloom and Wretched World can be downright frightening to the faint of heart.

The inner album sleeve reads, “We may get better – we won’t get well.” They certainly did get better, and I do hope they never get well, because only the truly sick could funnel it into such a demented, insane piece of art like this. Recommended to anyone who wants to get “fucked up”.

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