Converge “Axe to Fall” (2009, Epitaph)
It has been a bit of a wait, but new Converge finally arrived on my doorstep a few weeks ago. Mr. Postman dropped off a nifty little package that contained the latest from the Massachusetts hardcore/metal/noise/whatever-the-fuck-else legends, Converge. Even complete retards can bet their overflowing drool cups that Axe to Fall is some seriously mean shit.
For a band that has been operating for so long, touring relentlessly, and just generally walking around with a sense of badassery– it’s not hard to see how Converge might suffer a bit of burn out. While I think the level of guest contributions on Axe to Fall is a bit too high, and can occasionally serve to dilute their ten-ton-laser-of-destruction-based approach, this album still sees the band forging onward, pushing into new territory. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
The album’s most discussed tracks, “Cruel Bloom” and “Wretched World” both feature guest spots. Steve Von Till of SuperPomo favorite, Neurosis guests on the former, while Mookie Singerman of Genghis Tron guests on the latter. These songs end up sounding a lot like the contributor’s respective bands, although “Cruel Bloom” has a bit of a weird Tom Waits/Man Man thing going on. While these tracks are an interesting diversion, they don’t have the pull of the more punishing material on Axe to Fall.
Converge may be getting along in age, but they still flay and wear the majority of hardcore and metal bands’ skins for evening wear. Take your pick– the brain-searing calculus outburst of “Dark Horse,” the torrential downpour of vitriol on “Worms Will Feed,” or the old-fashioned brutality of the title track. The Converge that has battered and bruised us for so long is alive and well.
Axe to Fall is a much more interesting, abrasive, and generally enjoyable album than No Heroes. Converge is to be applauded for continuing to push their sound in new directions that result in this album being their most diverse to date. The diviersity comes at a price– Axe to Fall lacks the cohesion that made Jane Doe and You Fail Me hallmark albums for the collective. Axe to Fall may have more guests than a hip-hop album, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of 2009’s most notable albums, regardless of genre.