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Converge - "Axe To Fall" (CD)

Converge - "Axe To Fall" CD cover image

"Axe To Fall" track listing:

1. Dark Horse (2:54)
2. Reap What You Sow (2:39)
3. Axe To Fall (1:41)
4. Effigy (1:42)
5. Worms Will Feed (5:52)
6. Wishing Well (2:49)
7. Damages (4:26)
8. Losing Battle (1:46)
9. Dead Beat (2:36)
10. Cutter (1:40)
11. Slave Driver (2:48)
12. Cruel Bloom (4:01)
13. Wretched World (7:10)

Reviewed by on October 19, 2009

"For the first time in almost a decade, Converge has threatened the legacy of 'Jane Doe' as their magnum opus."

Like it or not, Converge are directly responsible for the metalcore explosion. Whether that legacy is a good thing or not is completely subjective, but it's universally agreed upon by fans of the genre that "Jane Doe" is a classic, and that any album released post-2001 will always be in the shadow of that masterpiece. But Converge has never been a band to rest upon their previous works and restrict themselves as artists. For the first time in almost a decade, Converge has threatened the legacy of "Jane Doe" as their magnum opus. By subtly integrating guest stars throughout the album, "Axe to Fall" has its own unique identity, while still being very much a Converge album from beginning to end. Well, maybe not the end, but that's a surprise that I refuse to spoil.

It wouldn't be a Converge album if it weren't heavy as a train full of elephants, and for those who love bands that push the boundaries of extremity, "Axe to Fall" does not upset Converge's usual fan base. Jacob Bannon is still shredding his vocal chords, Kurt Ballou and Nate Newton are still shredding at in-human speeds and Ben Koller reminds the world of exactly why his drumming is so revered. However, it's the influences that members of bands like The Red Chord and Cave In bring to the table that make "Axe to Fall" more than just the next Converge album. It will be interesting to see how some of these tracks are performed live - in particular "Wishing Well" - which has one of the best guitar solos of the year.

Even on my fourth listen, there are already tracks that I love to death, in particular "Dark Horse" and the above mentioned "Wishing Well." For an album as brutal as this, the band knows exactly how to create a good hook to draw the listener in, only to pummel them with a short burst of power, like "Cutter" or the title track. Given how technical Converge's music is, and how many other tech bands fail to create either brutality or hooks, "Axe to Fall" is an incredible feat. Everyone, official band member or not, is at the top of their game. "Axe to Fall" is clearly a contender for album of the year, regardless of any genre.

Highs: Still brutal as hell. Guests bring their own identities and influences to the album. The final two tracks.

Lows: Jane Doe is still better

Bottom line: Metalcore album of the year.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)