Converge has grown unbelievably and exponentially over the years. I remember seeing them opening for Deadguy at a VFW Hall in Buffalo in like 1995 or ‘96. This was back when they were a dual guitar quintet and before either bassist Nate Newton and drummer Ben Koller were in the band and, honestly, despite the dusty cobwebs of my brain regularly failing to remember what to get at the grocery store ten minutes after leaving my house, I can remember is them being less than impressive at the time.
But hey, we were all young once and we all had to grow into our skin over the course of time. Converge has done so over the course of 25+ years and has been on non-stop upward movement in terms of quality, aesthetics and significance since 2001’s landmark, Jane Doe. The Dusk in Us is album number nine and possesses all the thematic and visual doom ‘n’ gloom as has always been the case, but countering that is a fiery brand of metallic hardcore that the band continues to sculpt as its own.
To wit: you know it’s Converge when you hear Converge and you can’t mistake Converge for anyone else. This is probably the biggest victory any creative type(s) could hope for. Even if Jacob Bannon’s unpolished dog yelp vocals and Kurt Ballou’s "less than traditional" approach to hardcore and chord selection still grinds your gears, there’s never any doubt who you’re listening to and they keep improving upon themselves with each record. Which is amazing when you consider the less than rosy future I would have predicted for the band had you asked during an after-show Mighty Taco run some two-plus decades ago. Here’s a The Dusk in Us rundown:
Lead-off track “A Single Tear” spits out a riff that is at once an energetic, melodic, spindly, pull-off/hammer-on classic with Koller making the drums fucking sing with every part of his kit contributing to the red-lining locked in cohesion. “Eye of the Quarrel” is darker, faster and more sinister sounding with a transition between a pair of riffs that juggle gothic post-punk, old-school hardcore and early strains of the band itself. The beauty of it is that you’re not able to say that the song goes in any of those directions definitely.
There’s a sense of true assimilation and absorption at work here. “Under Duress” is of a similar mind. It’s a churning rager similar in style and pace to “You Fail Me” and, like a lot of The Dusk in Us, flirts with other genres and subgenres, but doesn’t dive head first into blind emulation or tribute. Essentially, influences and inspirations are rewritten for their own purpose and use. In this particular place, you might think to yourself, ‘hey, that sort of reminds me of Godflesh and Joy Division!” However, you could as easily scoff at anyone who tells you the song recalls Godflesh or Joy Division. “Arkiphov Calm” is another case in point as it nabs from what may or may not be a combination of surf rock and their old counterparts in the Dillinger Escape Plan, only to offer up a helping of skittering and shuffling awesomeness that paints a picture of noise rock and 90s Mid-west basement screamo teaming up to out-staccato Meshuggah.
The title track is as morose as the title implies and sees Bannon channelling the vocal persona from his Wear Your Wounds solo project in extolling the virtues of the dark side of human nature while “Thousands of Miles Between Us” is a title that is as descriptive and indicative of the sonics behind it as your blackened imagination can muster. “Murk & Marrow” is just about the weirdest sci-fi/suspense/horror movie sound track you’ll ever hear; don’t be surprised if you hear it in a chase scene in the upcoming second season of Stranger Things. “Trigger” is possibly the most outlying track with its screaming guitar bends, driving bass strut and AmRep vocals, interchanged with a thrashing, down strummed riff and anthemic chorus. It’s also one of the most memorable songs the band has ever written just in terms of inherent catchiness, vocal phrasing and how all the elements are combined and merge back and forth.
So, there you have it. My not mentioning other killer tracks like “Broken By Light,” “I Can Tell You About Pain,” “Cannibals” and monolithic album closer “Reptilian” isn’t a slight. It’s just that I’d be here all day talking about this album which is counterproductive to what you should be doing: listening to the fucking thing!