Everyone, go home, Converge is officially this year’s winner. Few albums have floored me so immediately, and from start to finish, as Axe To Fall has. From the opening bass line to the serene ending songs, this album teeters on the edge of being completely overwhelming, but never crosses that fine line.
The first track of the album, “Dark Horse” couldn’t do a better job at setting the pace for the entire album. It features grooves, riffage, and everything Converge does perfectly on this record. If somehow, at the 1:57 mark of “Dark Horse” you are not kicking holes in walls, smashing your keyboard, or at the very least metal thrashing mad – you either aren’t human or you hate heavy music. From there on out, the album only further careens into the dark depths of chaos, beating your soul into submission with furious riffage and raucous rhythm changes. It’s amazingly cliché to say such things, but this album really will strike terror into your soul with such painful discord in each and every note.
Beyond the furious riffage and bludgeoning rhythms, the songs are written with very diverse structures, and flow amazingly well. They’re connected to the point where the line between songs is blurred, but not so much that it is unclear when you’ve hit a new song. It’s not foot-to-the-throat the entire time, either (something I feel limits many bands and albums in terms of actual songwriting). On my first listen through I was extremely shocked by the last two songs on the album, “Cruel Bloom” and “Wretched World”, and how they’re considerably less ballistic than the other eleven tracks on the album. Though a bit suspicious, once the album subsided to silence it all made sense. My ears were tingling, my blood was pumping, and I was completely and utterly speechless. I can say without doubt that I have never heard an album as emotional as this album. I don’t mean that in the “our girlfriend of two weeks broke up with us now we wanna cry” way, either. This album from top to bottom is filled with rage, pain, joy, fear, pride, and most of all passion. This truly is music you can feel.
Sonically, this album is near perfect. Nothing is too much or too little, and it is meant to be played way too loud. You can pick out each and every single instrument at any given moment, and can hear each and every nuance that is contained in the album (and boy are there a lot of them). To be completely truthful, I was never quite sold on Converge before Axe To Fall. I enjoyed Jane Doe and No Heroes, but this album is truly in its own league. I’m unsure if people who loved the old Converge stuff the best will like it, but Axe To Fall certainly cannot disappoint and will most definitely score the band troves of new fans.
Song picks: “Dark Horse” and “Reap What You Sow”
Overall Score: 10/10 devil horns