Sound — 10
Converge always have a lot to prove. Their seminal "Jane Doe" in 2001 set a high benchmark for the hardcore scene, combining kinetic punk with the fury of metal to make one of the heaviest albums ever committed to tape. But one decade and three albums later, "Jane Doe" still looms like a vulture - seemingly impossible to improve on and too emotionally driven to compete with. Can "All We Love..." finally pull them from Jane's shadow and make history in its own right?
Kurt Ballou is more than just a guitarist to Converge. He's established himself as one of the most respected recording engineers in metal, arming himself with credits for Cave In, Ghenghis Tron, Isis and dozens more. Who better to produce a Converge album?
Their unpredictable live style is captured perfectly, yet evades all cliques of cold metal precision. Ballou has described their sound as "a bunch of hardcore kids playing leftover Slayer riffs," but this album draws plenty from thrash, punk and grindcore. It can be distracting if you're not wild on one style, but the structures are chaotic enough to keep your attention throughout.
Highlights are "Tender Abuse" for its sheer energy followed by "Sadness Comes Home" for the accessible yet immensely cool riffage. "Glacial Pace" is the emotional centerpiece, where Ballou's guitar doesn't gently weep as much as bellow from a tar pit, begging to escape. Compelling stuff indeed.
Lyrics — 8
Jacob Bannon is technically the frontman, but his grating vocals are so revered by fans that I wonder if the band hold him back just to blow you away with 'the good bits'. Bassist Nate Newton fronts several tracks with angst-ridden ranting, though Bannon remains the star. Legends say he can destroy speakers with a breath, and from the samples below you wouldn't doubt it.
There's little use in reprinting Bannon's lyrics because barely anything on the record is intelligible, but here's a clip from "Glacial Pace" to get a sense of his poetic integrity: "My love, wrap your hands around my heart / Free me from the front that enveloped my life / My love, reach out your arms and pull me close / Let us tread in silence / As their world drowns beneath us". Lovely, but you wouldn't know it.
Overall Impression — 8
For anyone who likes their recordings raw and loud, this is an essential release. And yet, it's hard to give the album too much credit. At 14 tracks it feels like two songs too many, with some weaker tracks (which are still pretty good) sounding like filler in comparison to the highlights. Technically the band sound better than ever, but the latter half suffers from poor pacing and suggests Converge could do better.
Still, this is a monumental release. "All We Love..." might be punctured, but moments on this record set a precedent for this decade just as "Jane Doe" did in the 2000s. Quite an achievement for anyone, let alone Converge.