If there’s one thing Converge is known for, it’s their impossible time signatures that raise eyebrows, stutter head banging, and confuse ears.
Now the last time we arguably heard from Converge was 2009’s Axe to Fall, which was a mature, competent, and skillful release. But it’s not as if all was quiet on the Converge front since then. Remember Ben Koller’s numerous side projects (a la Acid Tiger, United Nations, and All Pigs Must Die)? While Jacob Bannon is working on a solo record on his own successful label, Deathwish Inc.
All wonderful things…but what about Converge? Recently they entered Kurt Ballou’s own God City Studios with punk/hardcore legends Dropdead to record a 7”.
Let’s get straight to their side, a song titled “Runaway.” Opening with speed, it’s beyond emotionally exhausting and bends not just the limits of what guitars can do, but what they will do to your speakers. Nate Newton’s heavy bass line is a nice refreshing change supplemented by guitarist Kurt Ballou. Ballou extends the craziness with a start-and-stop approach that constantly reroutes your mind on what direction the song is taking. The addictive guitar riff that makes up the middle of the song will plague your thoughts long after listening. It is a guarantee that you will try air-guitar to this (that of which we achieve the replication of it perfectly, no doubt). After all, the riff is reminiscent of early metal and the gothic sound that bases metal (and either we remember that fact or try to forget it). Converge is neither completely metal nor completely hardcore. However there’s a lot of Black Flag and Black Sabbath here.
Within the first 30 seconds, Koller’s uniqueness as a drummer is in the spotlight. His style of loud cymbals is apparent and keeps the song together. “Runaway” is jam-packed with numerous parts all worth mentioning and they somehow manage to do it in a short amount of time. Converge’s music isn’t just aggressive, but their approach is as well. “Aggressive,” though, is an adjective too low-quality to do actual justice and description for their performance. Anyone who has seen their live shows also knows this very well.
There are so many things that plague current hardcore. Although negativity is funny at times, it’s just depressing in a larger context. We don’t want to be bitter old music snobs who insist that “music was better in my day.” It would be worse yet to think that the genre itself is on the track to obscurity or at an apocalyptic end. With Converge, we know this is not the case as they are a shining light on the spectrum of heavy music.
Then Bannon’s vocals thrash in any direction in typical Converge fashion. He says or screams what he will when he finds it necessary. And those nasty repetitious growls of “Runaway!” at the end of the song are serious and excellent. But the words give the opposite effect, for I’d rather press “repeat” than “runaway.”
Converge, welcome back. It’s about damn time.