Converge- Axe to Fall

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Friday, February 19, 2010

Every couple of years, a new Converge album is released into the musical world and is met with increasingly higher standards. Since the release of Jane Doe in 2001, the metalcore/hardcore heavyweight has been subtly changing their sound and putting out efforts that are often met with critical acclaim. For their latest release Axe to Fall they have chosen to utilize a variety of different guest musicians and as a result it is easily the band’s most diverse effort to date. It may not necessarily be regarded as their best, but it is a genuinely good disc that is sure to hook any fan of the group.

There are plenty of moments on Axe to Fall that utilize the traditional Converge formula. If you are unfamiliar with this, the instrumentalists typically offer some very fast paced and aggressive riffs before transitioning to some slower paced, sludgy breaks. However it is clear this time around that the band wanted to shake things up as opener “Dark Horse” features some of the fasted material the group has written in some time, and from there things get more and more experimental. At times it is easy to pick out when guest musicians pop up but other times they simply blend in with the styles long time fans have come to expect. On You Fail Me and No Heroes Converge offered some softer ideas, but they often came in the form of just one lengthy song. This time around it is clear that the band wanted some stylistic differences, as the song “Worms Will Feed” is the start of the more experimental side of Axe to Fall. By the time you reach the end of the album and the shoegaze sounding “Wretched World” has come to an end it is clear that the guests have really helped Converge to branch out and you will likely have enjoyed the journey. It isn’t necessarily the best work they have ever done, but it is the most stylistically diverse and that comes as a welcome surprise.

As you might expect from a Converge album, lead singer Jacob Bannon steals the show for the majority of the tracks and continues his abrasive vocal assaults that he has become known for over the past decade. However, on the songs “Cruel Bloom” and “Wretched World” Bannon hands over the mic and lets Neurosis’ Steve Von Till and Genghis Tron’s Mookie Singerman handle the singing. This certainly sets Axe to Fall apart from any past Converge effort, as Bannon has never let guests dominate this much of the band’s material in the past. But it works, and even when there he is given the spotlight and supported by backup vocalists listeners will find themselves interested. This long running group should certainly be given credit for taking risks, especially considering how good the results are.

I will always personally have a soft spot for Jane Doe and You Fail Me, but I feel as though Axe to Fall is better than the impressive No Heroes from 2006. Converge may have spent a lot of time focusing on guest musicians and vocalists, but it has helped them to expand their horizons and is sure to play a key role on how they approach writing songs in the future. In addition to this, the lighter moments make the band more accessible than they have been in years and this could draw some new listeners in. Almost a decade after their breakthrough album, Converge is still going strong and continuing to change and this is why they are still one of the most widely known metalcore/hardcore acts around.

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