Well, this is a bit of a late one. In all honesty, I’m not too sure why ‘Axe To Fall’ has found itself somewhat neglected on The Only Thing I Know For Sure. This has had all the trappings of a big release, being the follow up to 06’s ‘No Heroes’ and an album from a band who are considered at the pinnacle of their musical generation. Even my housemate, who on a regular basis makes masturbatory comments about Converge and their past few albums, seems to have let their seventh studio album pass him by. This is a shame. Because as those of you who did pick it up as soon as possible, and myself, have learnt to realise that ‘Axe To Fall’ is possibly Converge’s shining moment of glory.
‘Axe To Fall’ is a change. Sure, Converge are still throwing in riffs that make your head spin and your brain hurt, and Jacob Bannon still shreds his vocals with the fury of Satan on his period, but there’s an undeniable sense that ‘Axe To Fall’ is instantly more accessible than any of their past few albums. This could just be a result of the tectonic shift in the landscape of this kind of music, with hardcore seemingly becoming a commercially viable prospect in recent years. These riffs may just have been made a little bit more palatable because they don’t stand out as much as they did back when ‘Jane Doe’ gave us all a fright.
But that’s not to say the band aren’t pushing their musical envelope: ‘Worms Will Feed/Rats Will Feast’ is a sludgy, drawn out nightmare, with Bannon bellowing as if at the top of a mountain and its segue into ‘Wishing Well’ is a dramatic build up that pays off in bucketloads. The penultimate track, ‘Cruel Bloom’ shows the band in a completely new light, with a riff borne out of an affection for Neurosis and a piano introduction. It’s something that’s sure to divide those that label themselves hardcore fans of the band’s previously unrelenting sound, but those who turn their back on the band for this experimentation are the ones missing out.
What Converge have created here is something that proves they are more than a one trick pony. It may very well divide the partisan fans who consistently long for the sheer anger and bloodlust of the past few albums, but for everyone else there is a clear signal here that Converge have grown up and are now willing to toy with that raw emotion in different, more effective ways. And like it or not, that’s going to be the only way a band such as Converge stand a chance of staying alive in the musical battleground.