There’s a free form, almost improvisational flow to the song ‘Arkhiprov Calm” from New England hardcore institution Converge’s absolute beast of a new record “The Dusk In Us”, the whiplash inducing tempest of aural relentlessness at odds with the tightness and precision of the musicianship on display. That’s been Converge’s forte for what feels like forever now though, or at least since the release of 2001’s earth shattering monument “Jane Doe”.
Converge possesses a demonic weight, an unrivaled heaviness, yet with production wizard Kurt Ballou, he of world famous heavy music factory God City, amongst their ranks the clarity and intent of the cacaphony is always state of the art from a production standpoint, while figurehead Jacob Bannon’s scathing vocal attack remains just as sharp as his innovative art direction. Bassist Nate Newton and drummer Ben Koller are the most high profile and in-demand rhythm section on the planet, involved in and immediately elevating countless other bands. It’s no wonder. If you’re a metal fan (in it’s infinite permutations) you’ve likely either gotten on board with Converge or gotten out of their way by now, either threatened or comforted by an unwavering style as emltionally laid bare as it is ferociously abrasive. Like the man himself says on the pitch perfect “I Can Tell You About Pain”: “stay clam, stay calm, keep your head down”.
“The Dusk In Us” is monolithic in scope. There are passages of scorched earth outrage here that are as heavy as anything these four men have ever comitted to record that brush up against sequences of uneasy calm approaching almost beauty, held together like glue by the authorative genius in the record’s songwriting as a whole. Borrowing it’s title from the band’s encyclopedic blu ray release and informed by Bannon’s excellent “Wear Your Wounds” project from earlier ths year, “Thousands Of Miles Between Us” is the record’s melodic nadir, somber instrumentals powered by a soaring clean vocal, Bannon’s most accomplished and impressive yet, which is preceeded by the blinding speed and savage thrash riffage of the record’s most brutal statement, “Broken By Light”, and the similarly trenchant “Cannibals”.
It’s the type of verisimilitude that most bands would kill to be able to pull off so deftly. But it isn’t just loud/quiet dynamics taken to absolute extremes, it’s the cleverness of the connective tissue that makes Converge the standard bearer. Sludge stomper “Under Duress” cuts through its wall of mass with an almost cheerfully gang vocal-ed chorus, Bannon runs the full gamut of his repertoire on unlikely but brilliant operatic opener “A Single Tear”, Newton’s bass takes center stage on the groove heavy “Trigger” and Koller’s mind blowingly off kilter blastbeats bring “Eye of the Quarrell” to monstrous life.
“The Dusk In Us” boils over with challenging ideas and flawless execution, a feat of superhuman proportions from any band, but especially a band almost 30 years on. This record places Koller, Newton, Ballou and Bannon is the very upper echelon of not just metal, hardcore or punk bands, but all bands. Continuing to bravely innovate in an industry rife with catering to the lowest common denominator, Converge have crafted the most undeniable argument yet for vehemently aggressive music as art.