My Audition For Spin, Part 1
Converge - "You Fail Me" (Epitaph Records)
After 2001’s magnum opus “Jane Doe”, it was hard to imagine what direction Converge could have left to take their music. They’d already made four full-length albums in a genre—metalcore—where most bands break up after one or two. There were mutterings in the underground that they’d lost their relevance, been superseded by the next generation of up and coming bands. However,with the release of “You Fail Me”, their first album of new material in three years, they’ve effortlessly reasserted their dominance of the genre and shown that they still have plenty of new places to take their sound.
The album is bookended with “Last Light” and “Hanging Moon”, two mid-paced rockers that aren’t as heavy as the typical Converge offering. Vocalist Jacob Bannon trades in his high-pitched scream for a sort of half-sing half-yell, and the guitars rely on ringing chords instead of the galloping distortion we’ve come to expect. It still works, though—on “Last Light”, Ben Koller’s intense drumming propels the song towards a crescendo that it never quite reaches. By the time the song ends, the tension is at an almost unbearable level. It is released over the course of the next four songs, all of which are much more typical of Converge’s grinding metal attack. “Black Cloud” is a highlight here, with its sing-along mosh chorus, sure to generate dogpiles at upcoming live shows.
Things open up a bit in the latter half of the album: the title track slows things down in order to further explore the epic structures first used on “Jane Doe”, while “In Her Shadow” goes even farther out on a limb by being almost entirely acoustic. However, it’s nowhere near a ballad; its dark sound simultaneously channels Neurosis and Nick Cave, creating a heaviness of mood even without heaviness of instrumentation.
Inevitably, there will be those who complain that “You Fail Me” is a lesser album than its predecessor. However, while it may not be as epic as “Jane Doe,” it is the work of a band who continue to push the boundaries of their sound in all directions. Converge succeed admirably at this goal, and “You Fail Me” is every bit as outstanding as any other album they’ve released.