It’s hard to overstate the impact that Converge have had on heavy music. 2001’s Jane Doe is still regularly considered a masterpiece in terms of 21st Century hardcore and metalcore, and with their influence having such a profound effect on the genre’s modern heavyweights like Code Orange and Employed To Serve and guitarist Kurt Ballou being the producer of choice for the darker, gnarlier side of heavy music, the presence of Converge has been integral in mapping out the modern underground.
Because of that clout and recognisability, they’ve become inducted into the group of bands fortunate enough to have the pressures of a need to innovate lifted, and can get by through playing to their strengths, and even if they don’t always reach the peak of their powers, Converge have regularly maintained a level of quality that most bands would kill for. As such, The Dusk In Us in terms of its position within Converge’s catalogue feels like the equivalent of Mastodon’s Emperor Of Sand, an album that continues a run of quality that’s already had some impressive duration, and even though most of its appeal comes from its sense of familiarity with regards to its creators, it’s appeal that’s hard to deny. If anything, what The Dusk In Us is to Converge surpasses Emperor Of Sand, if only because Converge play with the sort of feral savagery that’s typically not the calling card of a band whose thirtieth year is fast approaching.
What’s more, there’s not a moment on The Dusk On Us that feels even remotely forced on phoned-in. Tracks like Arkhipov Calm and Broken By Light have Jacob Bannon bloodshot and frothing at the mouth over jagged mathcore assaults with the frayed edges left in, while the title track and Reptilian instead choose to plunge down into the dense, blackened murk that Ballou’s own production is perfect for. Any expectations of what a Converge album should sound like are met here, but this certainly isn’t predictable; Bannon’s vocals have an elasticity that makes A Single Tear and Under Duress bristle with explosiveness, and there’s an abrasiveness to Ballou’s guitar work that gives a track like I Can Tell You About Pain a combustible quality that’s always a positive in this sort of hardcore.
It’s tough to know where else to go with The Dusk In Us; as ultimately exciting as this album is, it’s a Converge album by definition, and any real praise would just be echoing statements that this band will be all too familiar with by now. That’s certainly no bad thing though, especially when considering that this isn’t a band who are relinquishing themselves to age, and are still conscientiously pushing their art in a relevant, raw direction. Certainly when it comes to Bannon’s fiery broadsides at the ills of modern life that have transpired in the five years since their last album, there’s a feeling of a band with a finger still on the pulse and ready to articulate their discomfort with as much bile necessary. Even on a track like Thousands Of Miles Between Us which plays to more sensitive, introspective emotion on the surface, the gravelly miasma and cloak of reverb on Bannon’s vocals hint at a far more sinister subtext that the band work into the thematic fibres perfectly.
But at this point, there’s no point in really discussing how good a new Converge album is, seeing as they’ve become such a consistent staple of hardcore and metalcore that it’s virtually guaranteed that each release will hit that supremely high watermark. The Dusk In Us is no exception, drawing on an ethos of evolution rather than revolution that makes for a resoundingly recognisable listen, but an enthralling one all the same. Even if this mightn’t be an essential addition to the Converge canon, they’re perpetually keeping themselves moving in their own unique direction, and that’s not something to be taken lightly.
For fans of: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Employed To Serve, Cave In
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘The Dusk In Us’ by Converge is released on 4th November on Deathwish Inc. / Epitaph Records.