Much like Isis, Boston band Converge represents a new(er) wave of metal/hardcore – they were influenced equally by traditional hardcore (Black Flag, Negative Approach), metal bands (Black Sabbath, Slayer) and even bands like Cure and Depeche Mode and they use plenty of distortion and mix speed/intensity with slower parts to keep things moving. While not artsy per se, they certainly have an appreciation for visuals, as seen in artwork done by lead singer Jacob Bannon. With more than few hundred shows and numerous full-lengths under their collective belt, they remain a crucial force in rock music.
Converge was formed in the early 90s, but it wasn’t until 1994 that they released their first proper full-length – “Halo In A Haystack”. It featured ten songs, most of which would later end up on some of their subsequent albums, with the exception of “Exhale”, which didn’t appear anywhere else.
1997 compilation “Caring And Killing” collected some of the tracks from “Halo”, as well as some new and rare tracks – “Blind” was taken from their self-titled 1991 EP, parts of which appear on Converge/Overcast 7″ split. It also marked the first CD release by Hydra Head Records, label run by Aaron Turner from Isis.
Their second proper full-length was 1998 “Petitioning The Empty Sky”, which originally came out as 7″ on Ferret Records but later was reissued as a proper LP by Equal Vision. Few tracks from this album were recorded live during a performance at UMass Lowell run radio station WJUL.The album was reissued in 2005, bonus track, new artwork and a video for the song “Forsaken”. All Music Guide website described the record as “11 tracks of blistering demonic screamy hardcore, wilting the leaves off the trees and turning the earth sour.”
Same year saw the release of “When Forever Comes Crashing”, which was produced by Steve Austin from Today Is The Day, who also provided back-up vocals on “The Lowest Common Denominator”. The album also featured appearances by members of Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Sleep and many others.
2001 “Jane Doe” became a turning point in the band’s career, as its considered to their one of their best albums (and the modern classic of sorts) by many. According to Jacob Bannon, much of the lyrical inspiration for the album was based on a dissolving relationship. Artwork was done by Bannon and was used in the “Year Zero” game based on Nine Inch Nails album of the same name. As a side note, the album was originally released in September of 2001, which coincided with certain sad events – it also came out in both LP and CD form, but LP version is no longer available and a double-LP version of the album was announced by Deathwish Inc. label.
2004 “You Fail Me” came out on Epitaph Records, label run by Brett Gurewitz from Bad Religion, which is better-known for its punk releases by the likes of Pennywise, NOFX and Rancid. However, Epitaph eventually expanded its roster to include hip-hop act Atmosphere and grindcore band Locust, so an addition of Converge to the list doesn’t seem illogical considering these changes. Stylus Magazine described the album as “testament to the brutal necessities Converge has created to ensure its survival.”
Their final (as of 2008) album to this date is 2006 “No Heroes” described by All Music Guide as ” 40 aggressive minutes of getting bashed in the face and stomped to the ground, the band helping you back up only to slam you into the ground again with punishing blow after punishing blow.” The band itself announced release of the album by the posting the following statement on their website:
“These days, cowards outnumber the heroes, and the begging souls outweigh the calloused hands of the hardest of workers. Both in life and in art, the lack of passion is sickening, and the lust for complacency is poisonous. This album is the artistic antithesis of that sinking world; a thorn in the side of their beast. It’s for those who move mountains one day at a time. It’s for those who truly understand sacrifice. In our world of enemies, we will walk alone…”
It is one of their most commercially successful releases so far – Wikipedia states that as of January of 2007 it sold more than 17,000 copies in US alone.
Their next album is still untitled and is scheduled for release on Epitaph Records in 2009.
Outside of Converge, band members are involved in numerous side projects – bassist Nate Newton plays with Doomriders, Jesuit and Old Man Gloom, while Jacob Bannon and Kurt Ballou compose ambient music under the moniker Supermachiner. Bannon also have a solo project Dead Lover and he runs his label Deathwish Inc. Ballou acted as a producer for “Live The Storm” – sixth full-length by Swedish band Disfear, which featured Tomas Lindberg of At The Gates fame on vocals.
Jacob Bannon (Supermachiner)
Kurt Ballou (Supermachiner)
Nate Newton (Old Man Gloom)
Stephen Brodsky (Cave In)
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