It’s been five long years; five long years since Converge, the forefathers of emo leaning metalcore, have released music. That all changed last week, however, as the band put out a 7″ with not one, but two brand new tracks. They still remain slightly controversial, with some in the Heavy Blog camp dismissing them. Here at Grind My Tears, however, those tracks are nothing but pure gold and the exact music the band should release after a five year absence. It is for exactly that reason that those tracks will be explored in depth below, putting them under an intense microscope and examining their every detail.
First up is “I Can Tell You About Pain,” the faster, more aggressive of the two tracks. Cringey name aside, the song is pretty standard fair for a post-Axe to Fall Converge song. It dances between the chaotic, grindy approach Converge has been playing with since Jane Doe and the more post-hardcore, screamo leanings of their All We Love We Leave Behind–era material. The only major, noticeable difference is that, for the first time in a long time, the song ends with a pretty standard fair breakdown. It’s straightforward pit fodder and definitely welcome as well, but this kind of moshy breakdown is something the band has more or less been avoiding for the better part of fifteen years. The track overall satisfies the need for the type of chaotic, emotionally driven hardcore that only Converge can pull off, and therefore leaves this column in high regards.
That being said, “I Can Tell You About Pain” does feel almost lacking, especially after the remarkable experimentation and expansion presented on AWLWLB. Thankfully Converge seems to recognize this and answers this with the boisterous “Eve,” which should satisfy those wishing to hear more of the band’s post-metal oriented sound. This track offers a different side of Converge, digging more into the territory of tracks like “Coral Blue” and “Wretched World,” offering far more atmosphere than what is typical for the band. Kurt Ballou’s usual massive riffing is replacing with a higher end lead, drawing an almost wistful atmosphere above the roar of the drums and bass. And roar the drums and bass do. Given the opportunity to expand a bit with Ballou’s guitar taking more of a secondary roll, Ben Koller and Nate Newton step up beautifully. A massive low ends upholds the entirety of the track, driving it forward and anchoring the shimmering, melodic guitar that rests over it. “Eve” is Converge like we’ve never seen them before, exploring ambitious new directions even for a band who has seemingly made their career off of already doing just that.
Converge aside, let’s shift the topic of conversation this week to some oddly jazzy screamo. “Jazzy” elements are not something foreign to the genre, as key acts like Off Minor and Swing Kids have famously used them before. The bands in this discussion push it into slightly new directions however. UNN, for example, chooses to use the frantic, off time signatures of Off Minor under a fray of blackened screamo à la We Came Out Like Tigers. It’s a bold choice, but one that pays off in dividends as the hectic shrieking of their more blackened elements clashes rather jarringly against the swing-esque undertones. Put simply, it capitalizes on that classic pretty-to-scary dynamic of screamo but does so in a way that’s uniquely their own. It’s not exactly like the sometimes annoying circle jerk of mathcore’s technical flair, but still manages to use all the musicians’ immense skill for full catastrophic potential.
However, where UNN chooses to delve in the chaos, New Jersey’s Our Wits That Make Us Men instead chooses to dance in the more tender moments. Their “jazzy” elements are not quite so pronounced, but rather hide in the details, expertly playing off each accent as it lays under every yelp and quiet spoken word passage. At first, the music seems almost secondary to the band’s spoken word vocals, which, to be fair, makes sense given the potency of the lyrical content at hand. But both elements play off one another beautifully, dancing back and forth carefully as to never step on the others toes. As stated above, it is truly a sound buried in the details, and the attention paid to those details is rather remarkable.