Converge, ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ – Album Review
Converge have just released their greatest achievement since 2001’s ‘Jane Doe,’ and yes, the levity of that claim is understandably huge. ‘Jane Doe’ is almost universally praised as one of the most important, if not the most important extreme record of the 2000s thus far, so with our claim set in stone, here’s the case to back it up.
Converge have been on an unparalleled hot streak when it comes to the albums they’ve released throughout their career. ‘Petitioning the Empty Sky,’ although considered as more of a compilation, powerfully issued an open challenge to what a hardcore band could achieve creatively, and as ‘Jane Doe’ hit the shelves in 2001, the barriers violently shattered. Since ‘Jane Doe,’ Converge have released three additional full-length masterpieces, ‘You Fail Me’ (2004), ‘No Heroes’ (2006) and ‘Axe to Fall’ (2009), but ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ evokes something more visceral.
No matter what styles of metal Converge have integrated into their works, even if the band seems to defy all established genres at times, they have always been both adamant and proud to keep their ‘hardcore’ identity. Although that rationale has gone over the head of many listeners, ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ shines a massive spotlight on the hardcore element of Converge, while continuing to remain highly experimental.
New tracks ‘Trespasses’ and ‘Sparrow’s Fall’ are fundamentally hardcore punk songs, which will surely lead to dozens of broken teeth and busted lips if played live. ‘Vicious Muse’ even begins with a poppy Ramones-like drumbeat, though Ben Koller continues to deliver utterly stupefying and rabid drum parts.
Guitarist and producer Kurt Ballou lends his trademark touch to ‘All We Love We Leave Behind,’ with the chaotic sound of the album complementing its musicianship perfectly. Along with his monogram spastic tapping style and sluggish, twisted breakdowns, Ballou delivers a … dare we say … gorgeous performance in ‘Coral Blue’ — the album’s standout track. ‘Coral Blue’ is the only Converge song in recent history that could be easily mistaken as the product of another band, as it courses through the same vein as Isis or even Baroness.
Yet another change fans will surely notice is that there are no guest vocalists within ‘All We Love We Leave Behind.’ Converge have a rich history of collaboration, but the lack thereof may have directed the band to focus not only on their internal chemistry as a four-man unit, but possibly on the group’s foundation as a predominantly hardcore outfit. Although their past guest vocal spots have added a lot to past recordings, Jacob Bannon’s unmistakable squawks, along with backing help from Ballou and bassist Nate Newton, keep the album sounding full and sturdy.
‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ continues the band’s tradition of recording albums that sound like Converge, but not the Converge you’ve already heard. This record is essential listening (especially if you buy the deluxe edition with three extra songs), and will surely go down as one of 2012’s greatest sonic achievements.