Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Album Review: Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind

Album Rating: A-
At this point it’s a little redundant to open up a talk about Converge with a hyperbolic reference to the band’s legacy.  Yeah, they’ve been around for roughly 20 years and have been blazing trails ever since.  This is nothing new, as with each new release the band manages to sound fresh and artistically engaging.  What should be said, however, is the mystical ability the band has to refrain from making bad music.  It’s true.  For with each album Converge reinvent themselves, all while providing an exceptional and immense experience.  Since their inception, Converge have released eight full length albums, with each being incredible in its own right.  With their latest, All We Love We Leave Behind, the quartet once again proves why they truly are at the top of their class.

All We Love We Leave Behind, like every new Converge release, comes hotly anticipated.  The band likes to drop little hints at what direction they plan on taking, and with this record it was hard to follow.  Promises of a new found heaviness were muttered, but the surprisingly muted “Aimless Arrow” nixed that notion.  The end product, however, manages to be one of the band’s most dense and oppressive outings to date; a bold and crushing feat of heaviness that feels somewhere between 2006’s No Heroes and 2004’s You Fail Me.  It’s got the former’s tenacity and aggressiveness, while at the same time the latter’s sludgy sound.  Yet a lot of the song structures have much in common with its predecessor, Axe to Fall.  It is a marginally “proggy,” heavy, and explosive album that condenses the best parts of modern Converge into one infectious release.

The band sounds their best when all engines are firing.  One cannot find a more exciting set of pieces than the ones that comprise of the album's first half.  "Empty on the Inside," "Tender Abuse," and "Sparrow's Fall" are each rapid and hellish bouts of sonic abuse that are completely welcome with the band's messier sound this time around.  Yet the real show stealing tunes here are the ones that come as the biggest surprise.  The opener, "Aimless Arrow," was met with a lot of early criticism when it debuted.  Much of the song features Jacob Bannon in what can only be described as a "clean voice."  it's deliberate and mellow, but when everything collapses in the end it is simply perfect. 

"Coral Blue" is yet another strange piece in that it is one of the band's most languid songs to date.  It moves slowly, with clean vocals and chugging guitars making up the bulk of it.  But it is a beautiful song with a distinct sound all its own.  Despite this incredibly strong track list, there is one song that takes the spotlight--"All We Love We Leave Behind."  The title track is immense both in sound and scope.  An instrumental interlude leads into it, which is the perfect start to one of the band's strongest songs in years.  It's deliberate, technically astounding, and completely "anthem-like"--a song one could shout their lungs out to.  Bannon performs some stunning and varied vocal work here, with a less aggressive approach that works really well.  

There's no point in contemplating how in the hell Converge are still so good after all these years.  They'll keep doing what they do and we'll simply have to lovingly accept it.  All We Love We leave Behind isn't their strongest by a long shot--sitting comfortably in the middle of their storied discography--but Converge have proven once again that they have not lost a step.


1. Aimless Arrow
2. Trespasses
3. Tender Abuse
4. Sadness Comes Home
5. Empty on the Inside
6. Sparrow's Fall
7. A Glacial Pace
8. Vicious Muse
9. Veins and Vails
10. Coral Blue
11. Shame in the Way
12. Precipice
13. All We Love We Leave Behind
14. Predatory Glow

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