Not for the faint-hearted, but you sense they won’t ever have it any other way.
Adam Kennedy 2009
Seven albums down the line, righteous anger still burns blindingly bright for vicious metallic hardcore heroes Converge. Shoving a pack of underground rock luminaries into the circle pit mix for their most collaborative effort yet, Axe to Fall is perhaps the Massachusetts foursome’s most accomplished record to date, too.
Having blazed a blackened trail for an entire generation of extreme-minded bands, Converge have always steadfastly refused to rest on laurels. Fairly redefining cerebral heaviness across an awe-inspiring post-millennial triptych of full-lengths – notably the personal torment of 2001’s sprawling Jane Doe and unrelenting 2006 behemoth No Heroes – Axe to Fall revisits formative influences as inspiration to push further forward.
Dark Horse’s fittingly galloping intro and the disorientating fretwork that follows lend several telling clues, rapidly confirmed by Reap What You Sow. Heralding militaristic machine gun percussion worthy of prime mid-1980s Slayer and pyrotechnic twiddles equally indebted to thrash’s heyday from guitarist Kurt Ballou, any misty eyes are soon cleared by Jacob Bannon’s rottweiler vocal attacks.
The title track delivers 101 seconds of relentless haymakers. Effigy, featuring three-quarters of Converge’s Massachusetts mates Cave In, continues the sensation of being dipped headfirst into hell at considerable velocity. By which point, the bleak unfurling chug of Worms Will Feed is an essential opportunity to regain breath repeatedly knocked from your lungs.
Inhale deeply, though, because there is little let-up once Axe to Fall’s frantic second half winds itself into further fury from Wishing Well onwards. Chest-thumpingly ferocious while consistently eschewing macho metalcore territory, it hits a startlingly kinetic zenith on Cutter.
Concluding seven-minute epic Wretched World, by comparison, is a funeral to follow a dozen tracks of brutal executions. Converge’s ethereal nuances bleed through, aided by the suspiciously named Mookie Singerman, frontman with New York-based electronica-metal explorers Genghis Tron.
Harbouring constant hair-prickling instances of immense dexterity and impressive restraint, particularly for a band so adept at solar plexus hammer blows, it’s an arresting finale to an album of almost strangulating intensity. Not for the faint-hearted then, but you sense Converge won’t ever have it any other way.