Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind
Record Label: Epitaph Records
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Please note that this review references tracks on the deluxe edition of this album.
It’s kind of a funny thing. Almost immediately after learning someone is a Converge fan, I feel almost necessarily entitled to ask them what their favorite record is by the band. Maybe they like the thrashier days of When Forever Comes Crashing and the like. Or perhaps the brooding, yet still heavy as fuck You Fail Me. In most cases though, the answers generally vary. Why is this important to this review though? Through different incarnations and particular leanings depending on the album, Converge is a band known to resonate heaviness while always changing it up – while never quite losing their ambitious instincts. The newest addition to their catalog All We Love We Leave Behind is a testament to that. Whether it’s breakneck fret-mangling or haunting melodies sewn among thundering percussion and still-searing vocals, this chapter of the band perhaps finds them at parallel peaks in both walks of their artistic career. In a fashion to which they don’t lose any of the desperate passion or blazing musicianship, Converge push and pull us deep into what in many ways is their finest work to date – while still managing to challenge our perception of the band along the way.
Swaying and churning with different intentions, Converge moves from blistering frustration to hazy-eyed reflection – taking us through both abrasive and beautifully heavy moments without losing steam or drive in the process. “Aimless Arrow” serves not only as the introductory track of the album, but as the first single of sorts, it sets a proper tone for the bleak reminder of things heard in lines and strums on this record. Musically, the band floats us with their usual upbeat blast of tom-glazed drumming and suspenseful melodies, much in the vein of You Fail Me’s “Last Light”, while Jacob Bannon doesn’t harness his usual menacing growl in favor of an almost simply shouted tone. Through the album’s seventeen tracks, that sensation of searching in this track brings us through both tempos fast and slow with intent and still crisp, balanced production from guitarist Kurt Ballou.
“Trespasses” churns memorable riffs from start to finish, while the one-two punch of “Sadness Comes Home” and “Empty on the Inside” shows the ups and downs of the album narrowly over two tracks while still hooking us with emotional and at times anthemic lyrics. The title track shows the band’s musicianship in an arguably less aggressive theatre at first, giving Bannon room to voice his thoughts while a gripping guitar line and floating tom fills push the tempo without sounding inherently heavy. It’s a pulse that runs from track to track in different forms and tempos – brimming with a thick bass and brink-pushing energy here, while at other times swinging like a pendulum (“Glacial Pace”, “Predatory Glow”).
It’s a bit sobering to be reminded though that while there are still plenty moments on AWLWLB where the band sounds a bit closer to their central sound (“Runaway”, “Sparrow’s Fall”), in comparison this album succeeds the most when the band takes their biggest leaps from those faster metallic hardcore cuts. “Coral Blue” wades through murky melodies in a tempo certainly not foreign to these writers, but the brimming vibe transmitted through restrained instrumentation and dimly spoken words perfectly reflects the mystery and suspense of the calm but deliberate poetry here. In a similar notion, the marching riff of closer “Predatory Glow” reeks of impending doom through some sort of approaching fury that spawns in the form of dagger-like jabs of guitar and drums before finishing the procession with an almost mechanical precision. Sure, it’ll harken thoughts of “You Fail Me”, but for a counter to the band’s more furious moments, it captures us with such conviction and strength that it is a tough number to deny.
For a band with as much history as Converge, the immediate question almost becomes where this album might fit into their quite varied sonic diary. It would be difficult to answer that question for everyone, but All We Love We Leave Behind certainly doesn’t leave anything on the table while still be engaging enough to please those looking for maniacal technicality or thundering obliteration. As daring as it is confident and poignant in its execution, this album captures both the Converge we know and love and a Converge we’re not quite accustomed to – leaving us with an album arguably as striking and challenging as anything the band has done before.
no matter how many people and websites tell me how great converge is, i have listened to them about 5 times and just can't get into it. no hate though, they are always regarded highly. i'll try once more.