The most common feedback we get from our readers about this site and why they continue to follow us (aside from our dashing good looks, obviously) is that they come to us to find out about bands new and old they might have otherwise never been introduced to. We pride ourselves on being able to act as a human music recommendation service to all of you, which is why we already have features like our very popular Listen To This! series of columns. When thinking about ways we could take this further though, we came upon the idea for this column. For Fans Of is essentially a distillation of this in its purest form.
The concept is simple. We take one very well-known and popular band that our writers and readers are fans of, and then we write about a small group of lesser-known bands that do similar things and who we think you all might like as well and give a listen to. So, for example, in this case we’ve chosen Converge (more on them in a second). These are not meant to be exhaustive lists, and it’s quite possible many of you will be already familiar with at least a few of these bands. But we hope that this serves as an appropriate jumping-off point for many of you and that you can find at least one new band you were not already listening to.
Few bands have enjoyed the lasting appeal and widespread influence that Converge have. Over the last twenty five years, they’ve released eight studio albums, each one building and improving on the strengths of the last, toured almost every continent, formed successful and acclaimed side projects, and generally defined an entire musical genre. Guitarist Kurt Ballou’s production work at GodCity studios is more in demand than ever before, and vocalist Jacob Bannon’s art has been displayed in galleries worldwide. It’s safe to say if you’re reading this blog, you’re at least somewhat familiar with the band. If that’s the case, here’s a selection of lesser known groups that are either musical contemporaries, or take the groundwork Converge have established and do something new and interesting with it. Enjoy.
Without further ado, here are our hand-picked recommendations for fans of Converge! If there are any bands you’d add to the list, sound off in the comments!
Swain (formerly This Routine Is Hell)
It is hard to determine why exactly Swain changed their name from This Routine Is Hell, for even a brief sampling of their music is much more indicative of their former name’s poetic representation of our sisyphean struggle. The rock, hill and slave trimurti depicted by the cover art of their debut record The Verve Crusade is a direct manifestation of Swain’s approach: cathartic, emotional releases that face the trials of life with a brash sneer. Without pummeling percussion or racing tempos, Swain capably transmit the core rebellion of hardcore through short, mid-paced diatribes that follow in the footsteps of Kvelertak and – of course – Converge (in the vein of their lengthier compositional excursions). Their sophomore album Howl received the Kurt Ballou treatment at Godcity Studios, which eminently assists band’s music in emanating the highest-quality sound possible. It should not take the band’s “Name Your Price” ethos to convince well-minded hardcore fans to snatch-up Swain’s music as soon as possible.
Recommended Album: Howl (2013)
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– Scott Murphy
Converge are a band that has influenced countless bands, but none may be as vicious and breathtaking as The Secret. This Italian quartet is responsible for some of the best hardcore/punk known to the scene. While their earlier stuff is substantially different, their later efforts embraced the void, and took on a more dismal, evil voice. Over four albums, it would appear as though the band became more angry at the world and the society that inhabits it as opposed to the other way around. Their latest effort is a prime example of that, adopting common motifs in hardcore and crust, but also some blackened elements as well, and brings forth the best in the band. Whether you’ve been a fan for years, or are just hearing about them, one thing is clear: once you’ve heard them once, it’ll be hard to forget about them. Embrace the negative. Embrace The Secret.
Recommended Album: Agnus Dei (2012)
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– Spencer Snitil
Cave In is a name most fans of extreme music have undoubtedly heard before, but few realize just how closely linked to Converge they are. Their debut album, Until Your Heart Stops, has gained a reputation similar to that of Converge’s Jane Doe in that it is a flawless example of the unbridled metallic hardcore fury Converge themselves pioneered. Recorded with Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou at an early iteration of Godcity Studios, Until Your Heart Stops established Cave In as a force to be reckoned with in extreme music, not to mention one of Converge’s best contemporaries. The pounding, grinding riffs of guitarists Stephen Brodsky and Adam Mcgrath and the unhinged drum performance from J.R. Connors exemplifies a Cave In that’s very different from their subsequent albums, but no less important. It’s arguable that along with Jane Doe, Until Your Heart Stops took extreme music to the next level and proved that it could be as destructive as it was heartfelt. Cave In had a largely experimental discography after their first album, dabbling heavily in progressive and space rock leanings, but 2011’s White Silence saw a return to the heavier sounds of their roots. If Converge is the Iron Maiden of metalcore, then Cave In is the Judas Priest, and they deserve your full attention as much as Converge does.
Recommended Album: Until Your Heart Stops (1999)
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– Aaron Lambert
Converge is a well-rounded band in their own way, offering a perfect balance of precise, calculated fury and unbridled aggression. Their formula results in the punchiest, most powerful cocktail possible. They are truly ‘metalcore’ before anything else — taking the riff-oriented and rhythmic nature of the first half of their namesake and fusing it perfectly with the raw emotion of hardcore, Converge’s songwriting is a one-two punch of perfectly channeled anger. And it is this same combination that Knocked Loose utilizes to a fantastic effect. Imagine a band that is to deathcore the way Converge is to metalcore — that band is Knocked Loose. The sheer ire and rage that is present throughout Knocked Loose’s combination of methodical, somewhat-metallic riffing and crushingly heavy breakdowns is highly reminiscent of Converge’s angriest moments, and the pummeling grooves and ‘leads’ that spiral around you are all here, just slowed down and somehow even angrier. Knocked Loose is Converge’s sick, nihilistic cousin. And that’s saying something.
Recommended Album: Pop Culture EP (2014)
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– Simon Handmaker
Trap Them take all the emotional fury that Converge do so well and throw it down into a deep, dark pit. One filled with the worst humanity has to offer. Trap Them’s unique fusion of metallic hardcore, death metal and grindcore is dark, there’s no question. But Trap Them, like Converge, are at their best when they’re at their most heartfelt, when frontman Ryan Mckenney is at his most passionate. That’s when Trap Them really come into their own. Mckenney’s lyrics and vocals are strained, monstrous, and utterly irresistible. He sees the world as a gutter, humanity the refuse that’s washed down with the rains. He sings songs about how we hurt each other, how we live, and how we die. Trap Them paint a bleak, hopeless picture, and it’s simply brilliant. Few other bands are this intense, this dark, this confrontational, this vital. Trap Them deserve to be heard, even if their noise isn’t a joyful one.
Recommended Album: Darker Handcraft (2011)
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– Colin Kauffman
Are you drawn to Converge for their fury? For their passion? For the unrelenting dedication to the ideas that burn their music? If the answer to any of these is yes, then you need to listen to The Chariot. These musical priests are fast, ferocious and chunky as all hell. When they announced their unfortunate demise last year, I was heart-broken since besides their incredible music, they gave this scene something it desperately needs: insanely talented tour bands who are also completely dedicated to the road. I didn’t get the chance, but seeing The Chariot live was supposed to be an experience of a life time. As far as the music itself goes, The Chariot, like Converge, have always been for me much more than just instruments. Their lyrics pulse with the life blood of a generation, the fear and pain of multitudes growing up into a world devoid of meaning or purpose. Channeling these emotions, The Chariot create a wall of sound, pain and rage that blasts open all locks on hearts and the pathways to your own anger. Check them out for an endless slew of riffing, break-neck drums and one of the most raw, torn bear and talented vocalists in the hardcore genres. You owe yourself this band. You owe it to that child in you who has always dreamed of a better future. The Chariot can show you the way.
Recommended Album: Long Live (2010)
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– Eden Kupermintz
Simply put, Nashville’s Yautja are one of the most refreshing and savage groups to come out of America’s crustier side of extreme music in recent years. With only one LP under their belt, the three-piece has already managed to carve out a style that’s frequently unpredictable, consistently challenging, always pissed, and totally their own. Whether the band is performing exercises in advanced mathematics with incessantly angular guitar riffs or constructing epic build-ups worthy of 90s Neurosis, Songs of Descent is a young band showing their mastery of both showmanship and restraint, all delivered in a perfectly-modest 38 minutes. You’d be hard-pressed to find another band that can make elements of hardcore, sludge metal, crust punk and geeky progressive rock sound so fluid and seamless this early in their career.
Recommended Album: Songs of Descent (2014)
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– Kit Brown