Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Converge - Axe to Fall

It's no secret the amount of effort and creativity that goes into any Deathwish Inc. release, especially a new record from Boston's Converge. The latest LP, Axe to Fall featured a plethora of preorder options, including limited t-shirts, silkscreen posters and colored vinyl. The records pictured above were all of the colors available for preorder, although there are three other colors available now.

Once the needle on the turntable hits the wax, your ears better be prepared for a sonic assault. The record jump-starts itself immediately, tearing through the first song and leaving the listener practically dazed after just one song. The flow between the four opening tracks is near breakneck speed, filled with highly complex drum beats and guitar riffs. In the second track, double bass pounds your eardrums as the song comes to a close. The title track of the LP continues the mayhem, pushing the limits even further until a completely devastating breakdown hits you in the face like a hammer to a piece of steel.

Its not until the fifth song, "Worms Will Feed" does the band begin to slow down, moving into a brooding, dark guitar riff. This song almost releases the pressure created by the first four, allowing the listener to recover while changing the feel of the music. The band's sometimes dark nature comes out in Jacob Bannon's unmistakable scream: "You will fall where you lay your head/Rats will feast/The worms will find a way/The rats will find a way."

From this point on, the record seems to trade speeds and feelings back and forth between songs. Another slower song might be followed by a frantic hardcore ripper, such as the 1 minute 40 second track, "Cutter." The lyrics also grow bleaker in this song: "Too much to ask when it's so hard to breathe/No way out/Tearing my soul to finally see/The real wreckage between (you and me)." This is immediately followed by the stop-and-start rhythms of "Slave Driver" which highlight some of the incredible drumming talents of Ben Koller.

The constant changing of tempos keeps the listener on their toes, and prevents the album from falling into the trap of sounding like a complete blur. The final two songs are a bit quieter, and seem to lull the record to its closing. Each of these also features a number of guest musicians. Steve von Till of Neurosis sings lead vocals on "Cruel Bloom" while "Wretched World" has the members of Ghengis Tron contributing lead vocals, guitars and keyboards.

This record is an obvious must have for fans of the band or aggressive music in general. After 20 years of pioneering the genre, Converge still proves they are able to churn out intricate, complex and imaginative albums. So crank up the stereo, start up the turntable, and strap in for a ride. While this isn't the next Jane Doe, you will not be disappointed.