Review : Converge - Axe To Fall
SputnikmusicConverge the supposed kings of metalcore have finally released a disappointing record. Considering their impressive track record this is hardly a surprising feat. Existing for nearly twenty years the group has constantly and consistently progressed their sound in new ways since their inception. What started out as self described kids trying to rip off Slayer has turned into one of the most interesting and well received "heavy" bands in existence. 'Axe to Fall' marks their seventh release and in general sees the band attempting to move into more experimental realms. Since their opus 'Jane Doe' the group has been adjusting their sound by incorporating various other metal genres with elaborate suffixes. 'You Fail Me' saw the group slowing down and experimenting with their sound while concentrating on pummeling their audience into submission. 'No Heroes' took the opposite approach by speeding up the songs and in general reducing their sound to its bare minimum. 'Axe to Fall' really does nothing to embellish on the Converge sound. The band seems out of ideas as they enlist a group of musicians associated with the band to fill in at various points of the record. Cave In, Neurosis, Blacklisted all have members featured on the record.
Comparing 'Axe to Fall' to the band's most previously recent is almost disheartening. 'Grim Heart / Black Rose' the centerpiece of 2006's 'No Heroes' was a dynamic Converge track that built through guest vocals, slews of guitar parts, and finally climaxed into a more typical Converge closer. 'Wretched World' featuring collaborations with members of Genghis Tron seems to follow in the footsteps of 'Grim Heart / Black Rose' as well as the title track on 2001's 'Jane Doe'. The problem with this is the track never builds to anything. Stuttering through effected guitars and overly dramatic vocals the song never really picks up much of a groove at any point and cuts off seemingly just as it should've started. This is the common compliant throughout 'Axe to Fall' as the band never really feels like they are playing a album spanning sound. Typically this would be a good thing, but for a band that has been so staunch and subtle in its progression the work on 'Axe to Fall' just falls flat. Most of this comes from the fact that Converge have for some reason decided to make a record with their posse. One only has to look towards the genre of hip-hop to see how tremendously this often fails. Albums in general work because of their cohesiveness, 'Axe to Fall' has none. Vocals provided by vocalist Jacob Bannon are on around half the record and the rest of the band seems to bow out numerous times for far less skilled musicians. Bannon's performance in general on this record is lackluster as the tracks he is on switch between highly distorted vocals or the shouty vocals present on 'You Fail Me's' 'Last Light'. Bannon's performance and the need for other vocalists begs the question if the singer's voice is finally going after so many years of an extensive live performance. Collaboration is of course encouraged in all realms of music, but Converge's insistence on it for 'Axe to Fall' just begs the question why? For a metal band that has four of the most imaginative musicians in the genre why replace the band on a decent portion of their new record with far less talented, less interesting musicians? Returning back to the hip-hop comparison the record almost seems like a press release for the other musicians on the record rather than feeling like a true collaboration between bands. George Hirsch's backing vocals on the track 'Axe to Fall' sound exactly like a portion of his band Blacklisted's acclaimed 'Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God'. Steve Von Till's appearance on 'Cruel Bloom' takes Converge and makes them sound exactly like Von Till's solo work as well as his material with legendary group Neurosis. The incorporation of an acoustic track as poorly done as 'Cruel Bloom' also has to have long time Converge listeners asking why after successful attempts like 'In Her Shadow'. 'Worms Will Feed' features some angry dude who sounds like every single post-metal singer has no reason to even exist (I believe it is Nate Newton). Converge has always retained their place as one of the leading bands in modern metal by not conforming to the norm. 'Axe to Fall' makes the group feel like just another Deathwish Inc. band sharing links with groups as unimaginative as Trap Them or A Life Once Lost....full text
AbsolutepunkConverge – Axe to Fall
Release Date: October 20, 2009
Record Label: Epitaph
This ain’t our first rodeo.
After two decades of shredding faces, massacring eardrums, and releasing hardcore classics such as When Forever Comes Crashing, Jane Doe, and You Fail Me, you could argue that Converge has done it all. Now seven albums deep, Converge continues to evolve and push their boundaries, as their new album, Axe to Fall, features their most dangerous and ambitious songs yet.
Produced by guitarist Kurt Ballou, Axe to Fall is another impressive entry into the already extraordinary Converge canon. A mixture of old and new, Axe to Fall features Jacob Bannon’s vintage yowls while mixing in a plethora of guest vocalists to shake things up. Ballou also amps up the riffage, while Ben Koller is a killing machine behind the kit. The first four tracks (“Dark Horse,” Reap What You Sow”, title track, and “Effigy”) will make you: A. Crap your pants, B. Judo chop windowpanes, C. Behead your closest neighbor and then punt it, or D. All of the above.
Clocking in at nearly nine minutes, the first four tracks will leave you exhilarated and begging for more. “Dark Horse” may be the band’s most accessible song ever, and the title track flies by like a locomotive engulfed in flames. “Effigy” is the beautiful collaboration of Cave In and Converge, as it should detonate the pit....full text
BlogcriticsTwo things happen every time I hear the words "Converge" and "new album" together in a sentence. First my heart begins to race with disbelief and then I develop an extremely debilitating anxiety disorder which persists until I have the album in my possession.
So let's call this premature review a symptom of my Converge induced psychosis. I've been scouring the internet to find a download of the new album Axe to Fall (with full intentions of buying it after its officially released — I promise) but all I've been able to get my hands on are two songs from the album: "Axe to Fall", the title track, and "Dark Horse".
And now the flames of my anxiety are being fanned to incredible heights. They're being fanned by a category 5 hurricane. And that hurricane's name is Converge....full text
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