Okay, full disclosure time again kids, Converge is my favorite band. Ever since having their seminal 2001 masterpiece “Jane Doe” recommended to me at South Street’s dearly departed used CD mecca Disc Go Round shortly after its release, I’ve been a devout follower of the band’s brutally honest brand of thrashy scorched earth hardcore. Despite my slavish devotion to the band and my wholehearted support of their sometimes polarizing post-“Jane” output, I’ve missed the band’s last few gigs here in Philly due to bad timing. Luckily for me, Converge comes to the rescue, as an HD, surround sound offering of their 2012 headlining gig at Union Transfer in support of “All We Love We Leave Behind” is the centerpiece of the massive new 3 disc Blu Ray release “Thousands Of Miles Between Us”
Shot and edited by Vice’s Jimmy Hubbard, the visual display of “TOMBU” gets us right into the action with multiple angles centering on the crowd, stage and each band member, be it vocalist Jacob Bannon’s wailing tornado of a stage presence, guitar virtuoso Kurt Ballou’s scientifically dissonant noodling, bassist Nate Newton’s crushing low end and gravelly backing vocals, or 5 star drummer Ben Koller’s punishing multi-limbed attack. The sound here is the real standout though, as the 5.1 audio, mixed by Ballou himself at his famed God City Studio, punches right in the gut, and you feel every riff, beat and howl as if you were right there in the front row with your chest pushed against a monitor.
The 2012 UT date is just the tip of what this package has to offer though as we’re presented with supplementary material filling two whole additional Blu Rays and packed to the gills with live material, interviews and the band’s entire videography. Of particular note is the full set from 2014’s This Is Hardcore Fest and Ballou and producer Matthew Ellard’s 2103 talk on the making of Jane Doe at Berklee College of Music. True, most if not all of this stuff is available on YouTube but it’s awesome for Converge diehards to have it all in one place and for posterity, and in such a beautiful package, with outstanding artwork designed by longtime Deathwish co-conspirator Thomas Hooper.
It was a long time since the 2003 release of Converge’s double DVD “The Long Road Home”, and the release of “TOMBU” shows that in the decade-plus since the band has incredibly come even further and continues to be at the innovative forefront of not just aggressive music but music as a whole. Converge’s next history making endeavor is a 15th anniversary full performance of “Jane Doe” at this summer’s Roadburn Festival in The Netherlands, followed by a multi-instrumental, slower and more experimental set dubbed “Blood Moon”, and including contributions from Chelsea Wolfe, Cave In/Mutoid Man mastermind Stephen Brodsky and Steve Von Till of Neurosis. Hopefully cameras are rolling at this event, because while I don’t see a trip to The Netherlands in my future, a Blu Ray production on par with “Thousands Of Miles Between Us” will be *almost* as good as being there.
Converge’s “Thousands Of Miles Between Us” is available now.