- It's beautiful aggression
- Jacob Bannon's vocal exploration
- The fact its the definitive Converge record.
- Well, this is awkward, there's nothing we didn't like.
Dusk, in its definition by the dictionary, is the darker stage of twilight. Twilight is often the soft glowing light seen from the sky when the sun is below the horizon, caused by the reflection of the sun’s rays from the atmosphere of Earth. We often categorise artists who begin to falter as they grow older in their careers, as their musical flowers begin to wilt, and their leaves depart to fall on the bands of the ground below, influencing the next generation of colourful bands disguised as gardeners of noise, as artists going through their ‘twilight years’. If we were to rip apart the title of the veterans of aggressive hardcore-tinged metalcore, Converge’s ninth studio album – ‘The Dusk In Us’ – we would conclude that this album is the darker side of their twilight years, this my friends, is the beginning of the end for a band who have been more consistent in creating genre-shaping records than Stephen King has in writing the stories behind some of the greatest horror movies of all time, which is quite something.
Only, it’s not. Five years removed from 2012’s masterful ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ – arguably the comprehensive culmination of a revolutionary formula for head-caving noise-making metal that they had evolved album-after-album – and you’d be forgiven for even going as close to assuming, by sheer common sense and logic, that Converge had finally broken the consistency, that they couldn’t possibly conquer the sheer aggressive nature that had consumed them. Any other band would’ve struggled to follow All We Love We Leave Behind, and yet Converge raise it above their heads, throw it firmly to the ground, smashing it into as many tiny pieces as they possibly can, and begin to put it back together again in a completely different order. The Dusk In Us is dark, but it most certainly didn’t slip past quality control.
Whereas ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ was a way of dealing with the themes of death, loss, and sadness, ‘The Dusk In Us’ is painfully aware of the world around it, the lyrics dealing with matters ranging from parenthood to the complexity of the ever-changing world we live in. There is a stark sense of urgency in the words Jacob Bannon shrieks, yet a complexity in the way they are written. In parts, ‘The Dusk In Us’ verges on borderline poetic, yet its delivery is an annihilation of its beauty, as if the juxtaposition highlights the awareness Bannon has for the complexities of our beautiful yet dysfunctional and disparate world. This urgency is heightened by the subtly seismic shifts towards ducts of melody tucked tightly between inordinate waves of aggression. The near-militant rhythmic alliance of Nate Newton and Ben Koller is at war with visionary guitarist Kurt Ballou, the former fighting their corner with a pummelling of what can only be described as the sound of a thousand bombs detonating inside your eardrums, and the latter leading the resistance with the moments in-between, the slowing down of time as death approaches you and the beauty of your life’s history flashes past you with riffs that circle around you like a snake and its pray, coiling you into submission.
Whilst much of ‘The Dusk In Us’ is as close to their traditional stylings as a band like Converge could possibly get to having anything like a signature traditional sound, what separates it sonically from their enviable back catalogue is its attention to detail, and its ability to slip away from a formula. Much like Gojira’s Joe Duplantier on last year’s catalogue-defining Magma, Bannon explores the depths of his vocal range, drifting away in rare moments to hauntingly beautiful clean vocals that hone in the words he writes. There’s an alarming sense of reality that settles in during these moments, particularly on ‘Thousands Of Miles Between Us’ as Bannon droningly reflects: “I always wanted to be more then what you were searching for/ I know you never wanted this but thank you for giving me your best.”
As much as Converge have discovered the ability to reduce you to near-tears, they have rediscovered their ability to make you feel the very nature of their songs. ‘I Can Tell You About Pain’ is a two-minute burst of blood-loss, telling you about pain not only through its lyrics but through its sound, its crushing mutilation of noise, riddled with the beauty of its very nature. ‘Trigger’ is a bullet in the brain in sonic sensitivity, melody at war again with aggression. Bursts of noise are staples of Converge’s catalogue and they are on fine form here, with the one-minute Cannibals as close to being eaten alive by music as you’ll ever come.
When you’re finding your footing in metal and moving down the complex channels of sub-genres that lie in this musical sphere, those of us who admire the aggressiveness art of metal are often or not handed a copy of Jane Doe as the definitive gateway drug. Sixteen years on, and Converge have delivered us with its successor. ‘The Dusk In Us’ is a definitive representation of all that melodic noise metal, in its guises of hardcore and metalcore, can be, and by god, is it divine.
‘The Dusk In Us’ is out November 3rd via Epitath Records.