Converge – Axe to Fall
Release Date: October 20, 2009
Record Label: Epitaph
This ain’t our first rodeo.
After two decades of shredding faces, massacring eardrums, and releasing hardcore classics such as When Forever Comes Crashing, Jane Doe, and You Fail Me, you could argue that Converge has done it all. Now seven albums deep, Converge continues to evolve and push their boundaries, as their new album, Axe to Fall, features their most dangerous and ambitious songs yet.
Produced by guitarist Kurt Ballou, Axe to Fall is another impressive entry into the already extraordinary Converge canon. A mixture of old and new, Axe to Fall features Jacob Bannon’s vintage yowls while mixing in a plethora of guest vocalists to shake things up. Ballou also amps up the riffage, while Ben Koller is a killing machine behind the kit. The first four tracks (“Dark Horse,” Reap What You Sow”, title track, and “Effigy”) will make you: A. Crap your pants, B. Judo chop windowpanes, C. Behead your closest neighbor and then punt it, or D. All of the above.
Clocking in at nearly nine minutes, the first four tracks will leave you exhilarated and begging for more. “Dark Horse” may be the band’s most accessible song ever, and the title track flies by like a locomotive engulfed in flames. “Effigy” is the beautiful collaboration of Cave In and Converge, as it should detonate the pit.
The middle portion of Axe to Fall doesn’t quite stand up to those first four tracks, but it still offers up some choice cuts. The crushing “Worms Will Feed” slows Axe down a bit before sludging into the breakneck “Wishing Well,” which features some guest riffs and vocals from Disfear’s Uffe Cederlund. Other tracks (such as “Losing Battle” and “Dead Beat”) deliver your typical fare of Converge madness, while “Cutter” and “Slave Driver” recapture some of that beginning ferocity.
Then things get really weird. On the final two tracks, “Cruel Bloom” and “Wretched World,” Bannon steps away from the mic and Neurosis’ Steve Von Till and Genghis Tron’s Mookie Singerman provide the lead vocals, respectively. “Cruel Bloom” features Von Till’s gravelly voice backed by a haunting vocal choir, as the track sets asides the usual viciousness of a Converge track – that is until the final minute when the bricks primarily used to construct the track come crashing down. The seven-minute “Wretched World” is a sprawling, atmospheric number. Converge threw every ingredient into the bowl this time, as this track features two additional drummers (Cave In’s J.R. Connors and The Red Chord’s Brad Fickeisen) and two members of Genghis Tron (the aforementioned Singerman and guitarist Hamilton Jordan). The end result is astonishing, as “Wretched World” will go down as one of the most remarkable songs in Converge’s discography.
Axe to Fall feature some of the most accessible Converge tracks ever while also serving up layered and complex tracks that will take multiple listens to fully digest. It’s paradoxes like that that continue to make Converge one of the most advanced bands out there. Even though they cemented their place in the metal hall of fame years ago, Converge continues to challenge themselves and release music that blows every other band out of the water.