Is there only room in the Critical Consensus for one loud rock band at a time? Are Converge missing the key signifiers (collaborating with a free jazz legend, touring in Ethiopia, the right kind of song titles, elaborate staging, etc.) that grab music writers by the short hairs? Will we have to wait 20 years for the band to be safely distant for a full page career summary in The Wire?

Or is it that (as Sam McPheeters wrote awhile back in the Chicago Reader) Converge's audience frightens and dismays the people who choose to write about music?

All of the above, I would guess. And I would add one final, musical factor: velocity. Converge often display their inventiveness via their mastery of speed. The title track on this, most recent, album is a great example. Careening seemingly out of control, the band constantly puts the accelerator down across Axe To Fall and then turns on a dime into head-snapping riffage. Maybe the mental image of mosh pits frightens some writers or maybe they only really "get" rhythm in rock music when it slows down to a pace they can focus on.
Now on their seventh studio album, Converge have, I would argue, reached a level few bands with their length of service attain. Having made what was arguably a lynch pin album in Jane Doe, Converge continue carefully explore what they can do. The group know their strengths and pick up bits from here and there (like the hints at Southern Boogie in the main riff on "Worms Will Feed") that expand their sound without diluting it.

The only dud I find is "Cruel Bloom," a song that emulates the fairgrounds stumble of Tom Waits a little too obviously for my taste. Fortunately, from my point of view, the album ends with the expansive "Wretched World," that shows the band working into a longer form and alongside collaborators with very positive results.

Regardless of what you may or may not read outside the specialist metal outlets, Converge are one of the best bands going right now and if you like it loud (as generations of the readers of this publication have) you need to check out Axe To Fall. [Epitaph]

-Bruce Adams



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