Review: Converge – The Dusk In Us

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On the long-running band’s 9th full length album, Converge brings us back to metalcore’s confused, earnest roots.

Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou has remarked that he and vocalist Jacob Bannon, like most successful musicians, played in a few different bands together before settling into the one that really worked – but unlike most musicians, they did that all under the same band name. I can easily understand how Ballou sees the Converge of today as an effectively different band than the one he founded in 1990, as the sound and personnel has shifted immensely over 27 years. The easiest divide to make in the Converge discography is to separate the 90’s catalog from everything since 2001’s Jane Doe – not only is Jane Doe the record where Converge settled into their modern lineup, but it marked the end of the band producing straight-up metalcore and the beginning of their much more experimental phase that has lasted ever since. At no point since the new millennium have Converge felt like they were looking backward to their early days for inspiration – until now.

There’s a lot of love for 90’s hardcore in the air these days, and I can’t help but think that it influenced Converge to revisit their roots on their newest album The Dusk In Us. The anxious, heartfelt guitar lead on opening track “A Single Tear” brought me right back to my teenage years spent combing janky Myspace pages trying to discover new bands in my parents’ basement. “Wildlife” is another painfully earnest metalcore tune, and “Murk and Marrow” sounds more like a “When Forever Comes Crashing” B-side than anything else Converge has written since 2000

I generally think of Converge as a band that transcends their genre to make music that a huge spectrum of heavy music fans revere, but you’re probably only going to really dig those particular songs if you also enjoy other bands in the East Coast metalcore subgenre Converge helped cultivate twenty years ago. The genre tropes present are utilized very well, but they’re still tropes and may carry some negative baggage for fans of more “true” flavors of metal.

The good news is that the whole record doesn’t fall into this nostalgia trap – the bad-but-kind-of-ok news is that the rest of the album is fairly scattered and incoherent as a piece. It’s not that the songs are bad, mind you – “Eye of the Quarrel” and “Cannibals” are exactly the kind of vicious and emotive thrash that I want from Converge. The slithery bass and drums intro of “Trigger” sounds like The Jesus Lizard getting ready to “open up this pit” and is a goddamn triumph. “Broken By Light” is the best Slayer song written in decades, while “Arkhipov Calm” is what every 2000’s melodic metalcore band wanted to pull off but couldn’t because they are posers who don’t even listen to grindcore. In short – the shit rips.

Ballou, Koller, and Newton’s playing on this record is of course exemplary – Koller’s barbaric drum chops have only gotten better with time and Newton is grooving like a madman. The real MVP of the album, though, is Jacob Bannon. This is simply the best performance of his career – there’s far more variety in vocal delivery here than on any previous Converge release, and the lyrics are just as beautiful as you’ve come to expect from the man behind the words of “Last Light” and “Hell To Pay”. His stirring performance alone saves a couple tracks that would otherwise be totally forgettable.

My final verdict: despite the high quality on a track-to-track basis, The Dusk In Us just doesn’t flow the way a full-length should. The record’s scattered nature is reminiscent of the early metalcore scene where bands were still figuring out how to even play this new genre, so I suppose it’s not so bad if you just think of this as a leaked collection of suspiciously well-recorded demos.

Maybe these tracks would have been better served as a series of smaller releases – there could be an EP focused on classic metalcore, a Slayer worship 7″, and then a flagship LP with songs that, y’know, actually sound like post year 2000 Converge. This release would have to include the B-side “Eve”, which is easily the best song we’ve heard from these sessions so far. How that incredible track (carried by Newton’s pained howls) didn’t make the cut over the other 3 vastly inferior slow songs on The Dusk In Us is absolutely beyond me.

Converge has been my favorite band for years, but that doesn’t mean they get a free pass on putting out an album below their capabilities. Individually, I’d rate a lot of these songs a 4 or 5 out of 5, but the record as a whole is a different story. This hurts me more than it hurts you –

3/5 FLAMING TOILETS OV HELL


If’n you’re interested, you can pick up The Dusk In Us over at Bandcamp via Epitaph and say, “Hey, what gives?” to Bannon and the boys on Facebook.

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  • Dubby Fresh

    Edward’s sadness is going to pique when he sees this.

  • God

    Even though their music has always been meh for me, their album artwork is always aesthetically pleasing AF.

  • Retchin’ Rites ov Karhu

    Well Eve doesn’t quite sound like it’s working on the same musical schematics as the rest, pretty easy to pick it out of the album (a shame as it may be). Best records are barely ever just the best songs.
    Never been that big of a Converge fan, although few members of the Toilet have managed to turn me onto some good stuff. Agree with the score but for different reasons.

  • Rolderathis

    You Will Never Be One of Dusk

  • sweetooth0

    Big Converge fan, not that big on the pre-Jane Doe stuff, but I’ll still give this a shot! I liked some of their other “lesser” albums just fine.

  • Howard Dean

    Toilet Confession Time: I’ve never actually listened to Converge. Like, not even a single track.

    • Rolderathis

      Same I think

    • xengineofdeathx

      Color me blood red, Concubine, Orphaned, and Aimless Arrow will give you a pretty good idea of their overall sound.

      • Howard Dean

        Concubines >>>>>>

    • HessianHunter

      If you were to like any of their material, I’m guessing it would be Jane Doe. It’s their grindiest and most fucked up sounding record.

      • Howard Dean

        I’ve always heard people mention Jane Doe when discussing Converge, so maybe that would be a good entry point if I ever decided to dive in.

        For what it’s worth: I do listen to the occasional beatdown/meathead hardcore and my listening tastes as of the last year or so have swung decidedly to more melodic stuff, so the earlier stuff might work, too.

    • GoatForest

      I’ve heard a few tracks. It’s pretty good mathy hardcore.

    • Óðinn

      Great band. Not for everybody though. Worth a listen to see if you’d like them.

  • xengineofdeathx

    I totally disagree with this review. This is their best album since Jane Doe.

    • Óðinn

      Haven’t heard it yet. Looking forward to it.

  • slipjackthewanderer

    I’m surprised at this score but I’m much more of a poser than the author so what do I know.

    • HessianHunter

      Motion City Soundtrack is one of my all-time favorite bands, so I can assure you that I am actually a poser of the highest order https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmyLLr39zGo

      • slipjackthewanderer

        Touchè. Now I’m just surprised at this score.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Not the best they’ve ever done, but still good enough to these ears. Then again, for me, even a reasonably “weaker” Converge track annihilates anything made by any August Burns Red-styled metalcore band – because I’m a biased asshole like that.

    • HessianHunter

      100%

    • August Burns Red <<<<<

      • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

        This all day every day for the rest of all eternity until the end of time

  • dan

    I’m not sure that any troo metal fans would be listening to Converge in the first place, their lack of that bullshit’s always been a big part of their appeal to me.

  • This review rules, HH. (I have never listened to a whole Converge song.)

    • Just imagine if All Pigs Must Die covered Converge songs. That’s how Converge sounds.

      • Howard Dean

        But what if we All Converged on Pigs? Must We Die? Or eat pork chops?

      • ¤_________¤ [♡♡♡]

  • I’ve been REALLY enjoying this one! Both the album as a whole and going back for individual tracks, most notably the title track. I’ve been re-listening to their older albums too and I think it fits in well. *shrug emoji*

  • Shakes 999

    This was pretty much exactly how I felt. The songs are mostly really good, but as a whole album it’s all over the fucking map and it dings the overall package. It’s weird saying that and shouldn’t make sense but there it is. That said, I really like it! It’s just…… odd.

  • EsusMoose

    Dig the album and think it’s one of my favorite of the year but yeah, relative to what they could conceive it’s a fair score

  • Óðinn

    New Converge. Sweet.

  • themaleshoegaze

    The Dusk Rant in Us me:

    1) HessianHunter/ToH, thanks for posting a review of this!
    2) This is a reasoned, knowledgeable review coming from the best place: appreciation of the band and what they do/have done while listening with a critical ear. Well done!
    3) I disagree, though.
    4) While it’s too early for me to give a final verdict (and my vinyl hasn’t arrived at the shop yet, darn, and when it arrives next week, as I’ve been told, I won’t be able to pick it up, double-darn) I do think that the new album is quite a success by exactly the measure that this review uses: Converge’s past and huge accomplishments that have made them a unique band among mostly lesser contemporaries, at least within their genre of departure – only I have a quite different outcome, let’s say a 4,5 for argument’s sake, 5 toilets being the perfect ten that Jane Doe is. Not compared to Converge itself but to what else is released it is most certainly a 5.
    5) I’ll just go on.
    6) To me the moments that look back at Converge’s past are clear successes, to listeners that just come in I think they could be fan-making, and if recognized, the references maybe do not reach the past peaks, but consider that there’s a ton of biographical bias to be taken into account, too. I actually would pick out two examples mentioned in this review: (1) the Jesus Lizard-y intro of “Trigger”, that is, to me, an obvious reference to the monumental bass-drum-combo at the beginning and the Hell to Pay (that is so amaaaaaaaazing!!); and (2) the already oft-quoted “When I held you in my arm the first time…” from “A single tear” that is a clear throwback to the undying shout of “This. Is. For. The. Hearts. Still. Beating.” On “Last Light”. I don’t see Converge compromised in their experimentalism by re-engineering such moments: their genre-melding is a difficult task that is unattainable to most acts and if they see fit to use it
    in another composition I think that’s fair and square – provided it rips. (It does.)
    7) Sorry, there’s more.
    8) I think that concerning their experimentalism they have a huge success on this album and that is the title track. To me this is the seven-minute-moment they have been doing over the run of albums since “You fail me”. It is the long, more epic tracks that they sometimes use to create the dyptichon-(or tryptichon)-like structural frame of albums. Here they introduced desert-y aspects, clean(er) guitar and singing sounds and a fairly regular even repetitive song structure. To my ears they have nailed that best here with a new approach, with more harmonious washes of guitar-scapes. To me it totally works out, and seems to be the thing where they really found what they want to do there.
    9) It’s tons of fun to re-listen old Converge to make some of these points, this band just consistently rules.
    10) The Dusk is in you, too, HessianHunter, you’ll find it! Such a ton of short, sharp, undeniable ragers on there, too, like “I can tell you about pain”, aaaargh!!!
    11) I might stop now.

    • HessianHunter

      You give a shit and that rules. Respect.

  • lagerbottoms

    I fully agree about the flow. Some of the songs on here are among the best they ever released (especially A Single Tear)

    But the flow is really fucked up. AWLWLB especially had some of the best flow I ever heard in an album