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Converge - "All We Love We Leave Behind" (CD)

Converge - "All We Love We Leave Behind" CD cover image

"All We Love We Leave Behind" track listing:

1. Aimless Arrow
2. Trespasses
3. Tender Abuse
4. Sadness Comes Home
5. Empty on the Inside
6. Sparrow's Fall
7. Glacial Pace
8. No Light Escapes (bonus)
9. Vicious Muse
10. Veins and Vails
11. Coral Blue
12. Shame in the Way
13. On My Shield (bonus)
14. Precipice
15. All We Love We Leave Behind
16. Runaway (bonus)
17. Predatory Glow

Reviewed by on November 4, 2012

"Converge have once again matched or surpassed themselves on all levels, making 'All We Love We Leave Behind' an obvious contender for album of the year."

Twenty two years ago, when grunge was spreading like a virus and hair/glam metal was wheezing a pitiful death rattle, a band of a truly different color was noisily birthed in Salem Massachusetts. By reinventing hardcore with a distinct mathcore intricacy and gnarled thrash spirit, Converge would become pioneers without rival throughout the mid and late 90’s.

The band experienced a defining breakthrough with their tortured and irate 2001 classic, “Jane Doe." In the years that followed, Converge have released three studio full lengths, each a poetic and furious statement. 2004’s “You Fail Me” managed to be pitch dark but accessible, featuring such favorites as “Black Cloud” and “Last Light”. While the band’s 2006 album “No Heroes” saw the band’s sonic profile achieve terminal velocity (“Hellbound,” “Vengeance,” “No Heroes”) but also allowed a stark, melodic epic (“Grim Heart/Black Rose”) to stand as the album’s centerpiece. The band’s 2009 album, “Axe to Fall,” remains highly regarded for its bold experimentation and the novel contributions of artists from bands like Genghis Tron, Entombed, Cave In, and Neurosis.

Converge’s latest offering, “All We Love We Leave Behind,” finds the band favoring a more raw sounding production style, closer to “You Fail Me” than “No Heroes" or “Axe to Fall.” Elsewhere, the band maintains all of its signatures. Shifting and complex rhythms abound and are pummeled out in precision by drummer Ben Koller and bassist Nate Newton. Vocalist Jacob Bannon sounds as fearsome as ever. Though as a consequence of the production style, he sounds as much like an outraged man as the vengeful demon of previous releases. Guitarist Kurt Ballou seems to branch out the most, introducing some leads and riffs that call to mind the likes of Mastodon and even Isis.

As is protocol with Converge, the album opener “Aimless Arrow” is a call to arms, this time against the self and circumstances. Lyrical melancholy and wistful guitar melodies gradually accelerate into the band’s trademark cornered animal vitriol. By the song’s conclusion, the band have achieved escape velocity and follow-up track “Trespasses” seamlessly capitalizes on the momentum. Gang vocal roars are everywhere. Riffs fly at speed metal tempo and guitar leads scream at the listener from all directions. Somehow things get faster and more frenzied on “Tender Abuse” but the maddening pace is finally bludgeoned to a halt by a punishing breakdown. “Sadness Comes Home,” “Glacial Pace” and “Coral Blue” find the band tempering their Slayer-like pacing with dynamics that stomp and even lurch, rather than surging forward. “Vicious Muse” is an intense two minute exercise in pure old school hardcore. However, it is the heightened urgency of the title track that finds Converge at their most earnest and eloquent. As with all Converge albums, the lyrics deserve to be read in full.

“All We Love We Leave Behind” is as powerful and arresting as the band's previous endeavors. A deluxe edition is available with bonus tracks (“On My Shield,” “Runaway,” and “No Light Escapes”) but previously recorded versions of these songs are available on splits and as singles that are slightly more polished and potent. Though some fans may take issue with the slower paced pieces or the left-of-center detours, it is the sheer variety found on this album that give it a unique character. Converge have once again matched or surpassed themselves on all levels, making “All We Love We Leave Behind” an obvious contender for album of the year.

Highs: Masterful songwriting, vocal and instrumental performances positively crackle with energy. All aspects of the Converge signature sound return and the band maintains their experimental edge without alienating their fans.

Lows: Few, though some fans may favor the production sound of the previous two albums over "All We Love We Leave Behind." The title track may have been a better album closer than "Predatory Glow."

Bottom line: This is yet another spectacular Converge album built loosely around a core theme but approached from several angles and via numerous methods. The result is a near-perfect listening experience.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)