No one ever said that Converge wasn’t intense, but Axe To Fall hits you right in the face from the very first measure. If opener Dark Horse is a frantic mashing together of everywhere you expected Converge to evolve to, the next track throws all that away. Reap What You Sow still maintains that manic pace, but throws in synths and an absolutely ridiculous guitar solo. Like, straight out of Kirk Hammet’s curly locks guitar solo. If you aren’t out of breath by the time you’ve finished listening to the first two tracks, then you didn’t listen closely enough. I’m not sure that Converge could play this album live from start to finish because I’m not sure any human beings could keep up such a relentless onslaught.
The title track brings back some of that chaotic Converge riffage that we all remember from Jane Doe, but then Effigy shoves even more synthy goodness down your throat.
Axe is evidence that Converge is evolving, and their direction could not be more pointed. They have obviously always been talented musicians, but it’s almost like it took this long for the band to realize that they could showcase their diversity and musical maturity with no fear.
The most remarkable parts of this album come at the end. The final two tracks are such a radical departure from the chaos of the rest of the album. Cruel Bloom is almost a sort of weird Tom Waits tribute, if Tom Waits were in to haunting your nightmares. The slow pace is a change, but you can still feel the intensity that the band projects. I’m not sure if that’s because of the residue from the rest of the album, but this song certainly stands on its own.
Closer Wretched World is a work of art. I know that a lot of Converge fans won’t want to hear this one at a show, but no one can deny the emotion that this song evokes. A lot of Jacob Bannon’s lyrics come from a heartbroken point of view, but this song manages to wrap some of the saddest lyrics in such beautiful music. I would love to hear more from this side of Converge.
When it’s over, Axe To Fall is Converge’s strongest effort to date. I don’t think they’ll be playing on your local radio station any time soon, but this album is strong enough to please fans of old while perhaps opening some new eyes to this quartet’s music.