Converge – ‘The Dusk In Us’

By Liam Knowles

It’s difficult to think of a more highly respected band in underground heavy music than Converge – understandable when your ranks include the owner of the label every heavy band dreams of signing to, and the producer every heavy band dreams of recording with. Not to mention the fact that even the side projects these guys run in their spare time put out more finely-crafted material than a lot of full time bands. Anything members of Converge are involved with always gets their fans dribbling with anticipation, and that’s especially true of their own studio material. ‘The Dusk In Us’ is no exception, as was clear from the worldwide pant-wetting that occurred when a few tracks were previewed earlier in the year.

It turns out that excitement was entirely justified, as ‘The Dusk In Us’ is every bit as excellent as you would expect from this utter anomaly of a band. ‘A Single Tear’ opens the album in true Converge fashion; rich, complex lead guitar lines radiate over the razor-sharp rhythm section before Jacob Bannon’s unmistakable snarl rips through. The last few Converge albums have made fantastic use of bassist Nate Newton’s low, booming backing vocals to contrast the higher leads, and this track features a fantastic call and response section as the track breaks into a slow, crushing riff that, a mere 58 seconds in, is the first of many ‘fucking hell’ moments littered throughout the record.

Much like 2012’s ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’, ‘The Dusk In Us’ is an assault on the senses and emotions but not always due to sheer heaviness. It is a shifting creature that blends relentless bulk with melancholy bleakness. For example, the breakdown at the end of ‘I Can Tell You About Pain’ will steal your dinner money and shove your head in the toilet, whereas the mid-section of the aforementioned ‘A Single Tear’ will have you reaching for the Kleenex as Jacob Bannon’s tortured vocal strains under the weight of the refrain “When I held you for the first time I knew I had to survive”.

It seems almost silly to talk about the production when Kurt Ballou, arguably the most lauded producer in extreme music, is literally in the band. OF COURSE this recording is impeccable, from the pin-point precision used to capture every nuance of Ben Koller’s unfathomable drum patterns to the way the guitars switch from monolithic riffs to glistening lead lines without the tracks ever losing any punch. Converge have not only managed to create a unique sound musically, but also sonically in terms of the way their records are put together. Essentially, they’ve become completely inimitable; although who would dare try and emulate such an intimidating group of musicians?

‘The Dusk In Us’ is confirmation, if you needed it, that Converge are an unquestionably essential band for any fan of heavy music. They’ve completely surpassed their roots in hardcore and become an artistic entity that transcends genre. Instead they combine countless influences to create pioneering, challenging music that remains heartfelt and honest despite decades in an industry watching bands bend their own rules for a shot at mainstream success. Converge may be more accessible now than the band who created the terrifying ‘Jane Doe’, but there’s no less anguish, rage and purpose pushing them forward. Lord help anybody who gets in their way.

LIAM KNOWLES

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