Its been five years since the last Converge record, ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’, the longest gap between studio albums in the mathcore pioneers’ career. Somehow, this doesn’t matter as soon as the chaotic riffing of ‘A Single Tear’, the opening track on their ninth opus, ‘The Dusk In Us’, begins. It’s clear that in their 28th year, Converge are as intense and nasty as ever, and still manage to mature and age gracefully.
‘The Dusk…’ features a mix of sludgy, crusty mid-paced pummelling tracks such as ‘Under Duress’ and closer ‘Reptillian’, and faster-paced, breakneck punk numbers ‘Eye of the Quarrel’ and ‘Wildlife’. Converge also experiment with melody on songs like ‘Trigger’, which features some southern rock-esque riffing. More melody, sparse acoustic instrumentation and a generally sombre atmosphere is present on ‘Thousands of Miles Between Us’, which features some of Bannon’s most impressive vocal work to date, and breaks new ground for the band.
However, the album’s real stand-out is the 7-minute centrepiece title track, which combines acoustic guitars, space rock-influenced synths and post-rock influences to create something that stands entirely on its own. While it’s not the first time Converge have experimented with their established sound, and members’ non-extreme metal projects are well-documented, this track is the most explicit departure to date and shows the band’s musical maturation well without feeling like a betrayal of any kind.
Other highlights on ‘The Dusk..’ include the mathy riffing and outbursts of extreme-metal madness on ‘I Can Tell You About Pain’, and the dark, apocalyptic atmosphere of ‘Murk and Marrow’.
The most important thing about ‘The Dusk in Us’ is whether it’s experimental, abrasive, or sludgy (and it is all those things), it’s always intense. One need look no further than the razor-sharp guitar-work, unrelentingly pacey drumming, and pained vocals throughout the album to realise this.
Once again, Converge deliver a complex, intense, varied and extreme record. Nearly 30 years into their career, they put all competition to shame.
‘The Dusk In Us’ by Converge is out now on Epitaph Records / Deathwish Inc.
Words by Alan Cunningham (@funeral_polis)