Axe to Fall
It’s always a bit of a momentous occasion for me when a new Converge album comes out.
Ever since Jane Doe (which is the point at which they started writing truly great albums, rather than disparate collections of songs of varying quality) everything they’ve released has, in this humble reviewer’s opinion, been of unassailable quality, and also surprising variety, for those who care to listen deeply enough.
Axe to Fall follows much the same progression. It’s not even close to the mighty Jane Doe (still my favourite Converge record) in terms of sheer harshness in either musically or in the production, but I don’t think it’s supposed to. You Fail Me and No Heroes have both taken a more accessible approach, and Axe to Fall is no different. The album opens true to form with Dark Horse, which features a slightly 80s sounding speed metal riff which also recalls the bands punk origins, in spirit if not in sound. This is definitely a metal influenced album, as opposed to hardcore, with lightning fast riffs and even some solo moments.
Of course whilst a number of tracks follow a similar formula, it wouldn’t be a Converge album without some variety. Worms Will Feed / Rats Will Feast slows right down, and brings to mind Phoenix in Flight from Jane Doe, and Cruel Bloom (featuring Steve Von Till on vocals) actually sounds a bit like Nick Cave at the beginning, further advancing the evil country theme from No Heroes and eventually blooming into My Dying Bride style doom metal. Album closer Wretched World is an epically atmospheric post metal piece, which builds steadily through its seven minute length, but never quite to the crushing conclusion you hope for.
It’s kinda hard to say how this compares to Converge’s other albums, as I find that it’s only with many repeat listens that they really reveal their true colours. At the moment, after a week or two of listening, I think I’d put this one on a par with No Heroes and You Fail Me, but not as good as Jane Doe. That’s no bad thing, Jane Doe is one of my favourite albums ever and I still listen to No Heroes and You Fail Me often.