LIVE: Converge: Blood Moon @ Electric Brixton, London

By Glen Bushell

Converge are an institution. For 25 years they have been pushing the boundaries of aggressive music, never falling into one category, and creating a sound that is entirely their own. On this special evening in London, Converge seek to take their art to yet another level. Joined by their long time friend, Stephen Brodsky (Cave In, Mutoid Man), as well as Chelsea Wolfe and Ben Chisholm, they are Converge: Blood Moon.

Before we get to the main attraction of tonight’s show, the crowd at the decadent Electric Brixton are treated to a vast array of bands. The four support acts provide a different take on heavy and intense music, but are united by a dark, dense aura.

Coming out of the gate like a proverbial bull in a china shop, and for lack of a more eloquent way to put it, Full Of Hell are intent on tearing tonight’s audience a new one. Their devastating blackened blend of crust punk, powerviolence and grindcore is simply terrifying, and for 25-minutes they own the stage. Even from afar vocalist Dylan Walker is exhausting to watch. He hurls himself around like a whirling dervish and manipulates an array of effects to make Full Of Hell’s searing cacophony all the more harrowing.

Before you can blink, they are followed by Rhode Island duo, The Body, who are arguably the hottest property in aggressive music today. After their recent collaboration with the aforementioned Full Of Hell, and their acclaimed new album ‘No One Deserves Happiness’, they are unstoppable. Their barrage of noise is deafening and the agonising shrieks from vocalist Chip King mesmerising. Not that they really needed to, but tonight, The Body proved they are deserving of the acclaim bestowed upon them.

After two bands as intense as Full Of Hell and The Body, the following support acts have a tough act to follow. Unfortunately, neither Grime nor Crippled Black Phoenix quite match their predecessors. While Grime are undeniably tight and possess a mammoth sound, their thrash-meets-crust mantra falls somewhat flat by comparison. The same can be said for Crippled Black Phoenix, who despite being a well-oiled machine, highly accomplished musicians, and who bring a more progressive element to tonight’s show, don’t provide the euphoric rush they should.

Regardless of which bands have performed tonight, the reality is, everyone is here for one reason: the rise of the Blood Moon. This much is evident from the rapturous applause and adulation that greets Converge as they make their entrance one by one, building up the monolithic opener, ‘Plagues’. From there, what starts life as a regular Converge performance becomes something entirely different. Focusing on their slower, even darker material, including ‘Coral Blue’, and deep cut, ‘Minnesota’, this is Converge as you have never seen them before.

After a dystopian cover of ‘Disintegration’ by The Cure, rounded out by Ben Chisholm’s ominous synth, the band are joined by Chelsea Wolfe. Her suffocating voice compliments the gravel of Nate Newton during a stunning rendition of ‘Cruel Bloom’, and coupled with the anguished howl of Jacob Bannon on ‘In Her Shadow’, it creates an intoxicating atmosphere.

It has to be said, that despite set of constant high points, this collective of musicians hit their apex with a complete reworking of the textbook Converge track, ‘Last Light’. Barely recognisable and achingly beautiful, it brings the entire venue to complete silence, almost as if everyone is in shock at the spectacle they are witnessing. They could have ended with that, and nobody would have batted an eyelid, but ending on the title track of their 2001 magnum opus, ‘Jane Doe’, seems fitting given the album turns 15 this year, and it is almost as if the track was made to be reworked into the awe-inspiring beast that it becomes tonight.

The most endearing thing about Converge is that technically they don’t need to do shows like tonight. However, being masters of their art and with an ever-evolving flow of creativity, they do so for themselves. Converge know exactly how to reinvent their own sound to remain current, relevant, and above all, the best.