Words: Steve Belcher
Bloodmoon I, is a album released in late 2021 by the legendary Massachusetts hardcore band, Converge.
The album opens with a piano riff played by Ben Chisholm and Jacob Bannon’s distorted vocals, immediately followed by Wolfe’s vocals. When the bass and drums open up the track starts to unfold quite well. I’m not particularly fond of the breakdowns and the quiet parts in between, they seem to break up the pace of the song without offering very much in terms of composition to where this song should “go.” I do like the heavier dimension they add to the track. The climax of the song I quite like, although I think the mix is a bit crowded during it. Being that it was the first song that I heard from this album, and it being possibly the oldest one worked from this album, I wasn’t really impressed with it, I think the other songs build on the dynamics between the members much better.
Viscera of Men is well-balanced in the way the song is structured, The intense parts are very well mixed, and the quieter portions feel much less out of place than like that of the preceding track.
The third Track, Coil is one of my favorites on the entire album, and I think it’s really where this collaborative effort really shines and shows off each of its members at their best equally, though the harmonized vocals do come off a bit cheesy like I’m listening to The Turtles or something, but overall I think this song in particular the most well-composed of the tracks on the album, the members tried to go melodic for many of the songs on this release, but I think the melody on this one is really where they manage to touch something actually catchy. The guitar towards the end of this is really good.
Flower Moon starts off well, and honestly does not have bad lyrics. It’s riff is a little melodic, though somewhat sour to hear. On first listen this was one of my least favorite tracks because it seemed a bit sluggish and basic in the way it was put together.
Tongues Playing Dead is deliciously filthy in the amount of distortion and churning maelstrom it produces, there’s a space where the other instruments drop off and the bass plods through it, which I find to be a nice dynamic with some records, Bannon’s vocals are very good on this track. However I don’t think there is very much progression on this track in where it wants to lead.
Lord of Liars has a very good opening riff, and this is more of a straightforward rock song than the others, This song, probably more than the others encapsulates the dynamic between Bannon’s masculine harsh vocals, and Wolfe’s more feminine caterwaul, though throughout this every member provided their own vocals, and even on other tracks of this, I get to hear Wolfe’s seldomly-heard harsher vocals.
Failure Forever mixes a good degree of heaviness with a bit of somewhat too-Clear Channel melodic sheen in the chorus. Part of my gripe with this record is that I want it to tell me what it wants to be, not some mish-mash of every band member’s impulses all pulled democratically towards the center of some homogenized result. It was really at this point of listening to this the first time that I got bored, on subsequent listens it certainly isn’t bad, I just expected more from Felix’s or (Converge’s for that matter) bag of tricks.
Scorpion’s Sting opens with beckoning. Wolfe’s vocals reign supreme over this one, with the addition of folk tale rhymes, but what really makes this track is that it’s an actual rock song in the middle of a metal album, complete with the dark sensuality and looseness and freedom that any rock and roll band should have. And yet however, it is not new to me. This is a song I liked much better when I had written it myself, wounds and all.
Daimon opens with Chelsea’s baleful wail, then opens up like the sky upon a thunderstorm, then there’s an acoustic break here, with what sounds like Ben Chisholm using what are clearly obvious string packs in the background before it comes back and the lead guitar comes in. I do like the acoustic bit at the end with the heavy breathing.
Crimson stone opens with a very pretty guitar line, then the bass comes into play, then vocals, I recall this one being the more melodic tracks, with the different members taking their turns on vocals, playing on its cinnabar motif. I somewhat like the more melodic tracks like this one.
Blood Dawn opens with chords of shimmering reverb under Wolfe’s vocals, read like a spell, to conclude all that we’ve heard, clearly calling upon the lunar eclipse to settle its judgment.
Overall my impression of this album is positive, though I have to admit at first I wasn’t really feeling this project and had the sense of “What are they doing with this?” However the musicianship, production, vocals, and lyrics on it are all good. Now, while I have this impression I also feel that it suffers from the problem of “too many cooks.” There are a lot of talented musicians from multiple bands on this, and I feel like with so many people and so many different creative instincts it tends to gravitate towards the mean.
Where I feel this could have been better is if in places it was scaled back and there was allowed to be more “space” and atmosphere to it. I also felt like Ben Chisholm, who made a point about how enthralled he was to work on this project could have done more in this aspect. Overall the album is very heavy, but the metal parts to me don’t feel heavy enough, and the quiet parts aren’t quiet enough for what I feel like it’s trying to convey, and it is quite melodic for a metal record. Some people have described this album as being in the category of “post-metal,” I don’t think it quite fits that category because there really isn’t enough dynamics and experimentalism to warrant that label, but it almost feels like it gets there. Yet even with all that said it is a decent followup to Converge’s previous record, The Dusk in Us.