“Innocence is no key, nor is naivety” repeats the almost chanted refrain of “Iron Rose”, the third track from the debut LP of Converge mastermind Jacob Bannon’s new Wear Your Wounds project, his hypnotizing vocal segueing into a doom flavored, heavy handed outro of near swaggering outrage, but still punctuated by a spare piano accompaniment, so as to not overcome the inherent emotion of Bannon’s delivery.
The shocking verisimilitude of the man with the most blood curdling shriek in all of hardcore won’t be a surprise to longtime fans who know Converge to be more than just the sonically assaultive measuring stick for all the grind-y, crust-y, math-y hardcore bands that sprang to life in the wake of their 2001 masterpiece “Jane Doe”, but also one of the most emotionally resonant institutions in not just heavy music, but all of music period. Bannon’s more pensive and contemplative tendencies being brought to the fore only makes the tragedies of the stories told on “WYW” that much more harrowing.
Not that “WYW” is all shoegaze and depression, the fact that a song called “Best Cry Of Your Life” is the record’s heaviest shows that Bannon’s wickedly dark sense of humor hasn’t dulled. “Best Cry…” alongside “Heavy Blood” call back to Jacob’s more noise/industrial tinged work in Supermachiner, with his tortured murmur laid to waste upon an apocalyptic cacophony of tribal, concussive drumming provided by former Trap Them skinsman Chris Maggio. Elsewhere on the record Bannon’s rarely heard clean vocals soar to lush, floating dreamscapes on “Breaking Point”, while “Shine” and “Fog” take an initially threadbare performance on an eventually altogether mesmerizing journey into 70’s era psychedelics.
Full disclosure: Converge is my favorite band, and Jacob Bannon one of my favorite artists, musical or otherwise. I wasn’t prepared to give “WYW” a pass though, and tried to approach this with as critical an ear as possible. Through multiple listens over the last week or so, I was definitely made into a believer. The sequencing, the blending of genres, and of course Bannon’s voice and lyrics make the Wear Your Wounds project feel important and essential in ways that most “side projects” fail miserably to achieve. “WYW” is an emotionally captivating masterpiece that, just like the rest of Bannon’s milieu, will be rewarding to return to for years to come.
“WYW” is available now.