The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Converge – You Fail Me
This next band was bound to make an appearance one of these days and with their recent 2011 tour going full speed ahead, I felt it was best to have them as my next installment. Hailing from Salem, Massachusetts and playing a blend of hardcore, punk and metal, Converge are one of the top bands today in hardcore/metal and their influence is heard today in countless bands. With a discography consisting of seven full-lengths, multiple demos, a variety of splits and two compilation albums, Converge have no doubt made a name for themselves. Now I could go on forever about this band, but I wanted to narrow it down and go over a specific album of theirs that helped me get through a bit of a rough patch in my life, which even to this day, the effects of said album have yet to wear off…
The album I speak of is You Fail Me, and the rough patch was a broken heart. Corny? Perhaps. But be that as it may, we’ve all been there and whatever help we can get to speed the process up is all that matters. For some it takes drugs, others it’s alcohol, for me, it always comes down to music. A even though their entire discography was given plenty of play time to help in the healing process, it was You Fail Me that snagged my heart strings and struck the lasting chord I needed to rise from ruin.
Now we all know that this album is the follow up to their 2001 masterpiece, Jane Doe, but I’m not here to compare these two albums, or any of their albums for that matter, as I feel all are great in their own way, and offer plenty of re-playability. The thing with You Fail Me is, it took the longest to grow on me. While I believe all their albums need time to really be appreciated, You Fail Me had to really earn it. The only other album that took some time to enjoy was their compilation album, Caring and Killing, but it was only because I just started listening to Converge, so it’s justified. But I digress. You Fail Me didn’t win me over right away, but strangely enough, when shit hit the fan and I was left bitter and then some, I called upon a few albums to get me through it and it was at that point that You Fail Me clicked and made it’s impact the most.
Out of their entire catalogue, this is Converge’s darkest entry. The title of the album itself is a reflection on disappointment and failure, a reflection on giving up. Bleak, alone, abandoned, these are the themes at which this album revolves around, and it’s evident from the intro track, “First Light”, which lays the groundwork for this album, setting up that vibe of desperation and loneliness. Then the onslaught begins as “Last Light”, “Black Cloud” and “Drop Out” come in one after the other with short, controlled bursts of brutal riffs and drum work accompanied by the amazing vocals of Bannon. Also, as a bit of reassurance, “Last Light” ends with the perfectly inspiring line, ‘This is for the hearts…still…..beating’ which closes in an array of ringing chords and rage. But even amongst the relentless nature of the first half of the album, they manage to slow things down a bit with the title track, “You Fail Me”, as a heavy guitar riff and dominating drums pace their way through the song which then culminate into the haunting, distorted and chaotic finale. Easily one of the best tracks and reason enough to give this album another play through.
The guys themselves once again put their best foot forward and while not just rehashing Jane Doe and offering an album full of complex polyrhythmic drum and guitar interplay, they give us a more comprehensible album, where the bass, drums, and guitar all work together perfectly and create the desolate backdrop which fits like a glove to Bannon’s emotional vocals/lyrics. These guys know what they’re doing and they do it well. Often drawing influence from their 1998 album When Forever Comes Crashing, You Fail Me is not only heavy and relentless; it stands as a proving fact that they continue to get better with each release, where each album is not some rehashing of the exact same sound you heard on the album that came before it.
Unfortunately though, this album is somewhat of an overlooked gem, mainly for that fact that it followed in the wake of Jane Doe. But if you can get past that, and give You Fail Me the time it needs time to fully sink in, you’ll see that it’s a really powerful album and easily one of their best releases to date. I will be honest and tell you that I could very well be considered a fanboy when it comes to Converge, but I can’t help but love everything this band does. When I began listening to hardcore and metal, Converge were one of the first bands I was introduced to, however, while they didn’t win me over right away, I was astounded by their sound as it was unlike any other bands I was listening to at that time. But to cut a long story short, once I really started to take all the music, the words and the meaning in, that’s when I became a lifelong fan. A fan that waits with bated breath for each new release, be it a single or a full-length, that’s how much this band means to me. If anyone ever asks who my favorite band is, I won’t hesitate or think twice with my response, for the answer is always Converge.
Now as I prepare myself for the NY show tonight, I will leave you with my absolute favorite track from You Fail Me, the song that took my bitter heart and gave it the much needed kick in the balls to get me back on my feet. I have yet to hear it live, so here’s to hoping this along with plenty of other classic tracks are performed tonight. And if you haven’t given this album the chance it deserves, please reconsider your actions and give it another spin, especially if you’re feeling unloved and weeded out…
Converge – “In Her Blood”