TITLE: THE DUSK IN US
LABEL: EPITAPH RECORDS
Converge are one of the finest treasures in aggressive music. For nearly thirty years, this band have been delivering hardcore that’s as punishing, emotional and challenging as the genre gets. Across the years, they’ve established themselves with pummelling rhythms, and riffs that are speedy, chunky, and more haywire than most hardcore bands. Not to mention Jacob Bannon’s second-to-none vocals, which are banshee-like in terms of their sonic brutality, yet so much more human in the amount of bare emotion he puts into every word.
It was with 2001’s Jane Doe that Converge really came into their own. The masterpiece delved into Bannon’s heartache and turmoil. It didn’t waste a second or hold back in pouring everything out, through harrowing songwriting and horrifyingly blistering textures. It remains one of the most cathartic listening experiences in all of music, and yet Converge have never had a problem living up to it, with each following release being a masterclass in aggression. That’s no different for newest album, The Dusk In Us.
Opener ‘A Single Tear’ kicks things off with harmonious noodling, countering rugged chugging and Bannon’s signature untamed barks. This song gradually builds into ascending driving, while Bannon declares that he has to survive for a loved one. Converge never seize to amaze with their ability to fit in such layered dynamic into brief, scrappy tunes.
‘Eye Of The Quarrel’ on the other hand goes straight for the jugular, with more emphasis on the meaty, and arguably the most punishing, rhythm section in hardcore just being let loose.
‘Under Duress’ is one of the nastiest songs Converge have ever done, with riffs that drunkenly stumble over, but with tons of swagger and swing. Speaking of swagger, this track also sees Bannon at his most in-your-face, declaring how he doesn’t need certain things people use as clutches, while he has the value of aspects of himself. ‘It’s the fear that keeps you there and it’s mine that sets me free’ is especially liberating.
Meanwhile, Kurt Ballou’s melodic fretwork that’s developed greatly on more recent Converge releases is present at times and as dazzling as ever. Across cuts like ‘I Can Tell You About Pain’ and ‘Murk & Marrow’, this certainly feels like Converge’s most stripped-back and to-the-point album in a while. Frankly though, it doesn’t really matter how primal or thought-out Converge are going, because they’re always pouring everything into the song to make for cathartic listening.
Tracks like the title-track really display Converge’s limitlessness with several minutes of haunting, numb atmospheres through rough chords that are lightly played, with some limp noodling, and Bannon’s vocals taking a more rusty turn. These more esoteric, slow-burning tracks have been become expected on Converge albums, and are equally as captivating as the more accelerated material, because Converge are so masterful with their craft and put their blood, sweat and tears into every moment.
While following tracks see Converge at their most scrappy and punchy, like ‘Broken By Light’ and ‘Cannibals’, there’s still a haze to them in the occasional guitar-strokes that seem to zone-out for a moment. Even when at their most straight-up, there’s still so much more to Converge than most of their peers.
‘Reptilian’ closes things with sludgy, stomping stabs that hit like a sledgehammer to the chest. During a tense bridge made by driving strumming of high notes, Bannon states ‘we must lose sight of who we are, to know what we can be’ and along with the fighting spirit of this track and much of what’s proceeded, Converge still feel vital and like they’re on a mission.
Overall, this is another winner for Converge. It really seems there’s no slowing this once-in-a-lifetime band at this point. There’s not really any surprises this time around, but once again Converge deliver hard-hitting, against-the-grain savagery that’s emotionally rich, to the highest order. It’s impressive after all these years and nine albums in, Converge are still able to handle and deliver such intensity.
You can listen to the album here:
WORDS: MAX CUSSONS