Sound — 8
For a hardcore band as celebrated as Converge, who have been consistently timely with their album releases since their 1994 debut, "Halo in a Haystack," the prolonged time they took after releasing their eighth album, 2012's "All We Love We Leave Behind," was longer than their fanbase would have cared for. In those past few years, the Boston quartet had focused on rehashing their classics, from doing a proper remixing of their 2004 album, "You Fail Me," to doing a series of performances of their 2001 magnum opus, "Jane Doe," for its 15-year anniversary.
Having also recorded and released one of those performances, entitled "Jane Live," at the beginning of this year, Converge have chosen 2017 to be a big comeback year for new music as well. Frontman Jacob Bannon broke the silence at first, releasing two albums under his experimental/post-metal moniker, Wear Your Wounds, while also giving confirmation of a ninth Converge album coming soon, much to the excitement of the band's substantial listenership.
On that ninth album, "The Dusk In Us," Converge pick up where they left off with a full spread of their hardcore/metalcore capabilities. In this approach, one can find songs that link to the songwriting mentalities of numerous Converge records in the past. The moments of classic rock/metal swagger in "Under Duress" and the groovy "Trigger" carry over from what was shown in "All We Love We Leave Behind," the chugging rhythms and proper guitar solo in "Broken By Light" ties back to the metalcore likes of "Axe To Fall," and the grindcore cuts of "Eye Of The Quarrel" and "Cannibals" hark back to the breakneck output in "No Heroes."
Perhaps most righteously, though, is the return of the Converge's mathcore element, which was particularly lacking in the band's previous album. "Wildlife" shifts from a messy 4/4 riff to a 6/4 pre-chorus and then a triplet-rhythmed chorus, 7/4 measurements appear in the hammering "I Can Tell You About Pain," and the astute tapping riff in "Arkhipov Calm," and while the guitar activity in "Murk & Marrow" isn't the best, its 13/8 measurement earns points for its oddness.
Those instrumental acrobatics may be the most dazzling parts of the album, but Converge also make an effort to appreciate their contrasting characteristics of being melodic and slow-burning. While the penultimate "Thousands Of Miles Between Us" sticks to its low gear of morose melodies and sullen clean vocals throughout, the eponymous song's post-metal beginnings eventually escalate to a rupturing crest. And the opening "A Single Tear" makes the opposite progression, starting off as a frenetic metalcore song that soon parlays into a bridge that's slower and richer in melody, yet still brimming with vigor via Bannon's screaming vocals.
Lyrics — 9
The fundamental theme in Bannon's lyrics for "The Dusk In Us" is appealing to the importance of love and compassion, both personally and communally. While Bannon's own moments of appreciating love is revelatory in its fruition ("So lost in darkness, in and out of selfishness / Hoarding all my dreams was just no way to be / Then you gifted me such a precious thing / A chance to be someone who deserved love" in "A Single Tear") and dissolution ("I know you never wanted this / But thank you for giving me your best" in "Thousands Of Miles Between Us"), his concern for keeping love and compassion alive in society is much more pressing. Acknowledging the hardships and negativity abundant in the modern world, Bannon warns of its corrosive effects ("The sickness spreads under duress / Compassion bends under duress" in "Under Duress"; "Born into such a cruel, cruel world / Survival can be such a cruel, cruel curse / Best of intentions will grow horns in sleep" in "Wildlife"), and asserts to act in ways that preserve and promote humanity ("It's the fires that we quell that save us from our hells / It's the wars that we don't fight that keeps love alive" in "Arkhipov Calm"), or else we will succumb to our worst inhibitions ("We are just cannibals / If there is nothing left to love" in "Cannibals").
Overall Impression — 9
In the wide array that they offer of their hardcore/metalcore sound, Converge show full and well that they haven't run out of steam in "The Dusk In Us." With their prowess as performers still as sharp as ever, their dynamic songwriting abilities also shine brightly, being both intense and gentle, technical and melodic, forthright and tactful. As they get closer to their 30-year anniversary as a functioning band, "The Dusk In Us" serves as a fine example of why Converge continues to be one of the most important names in hardcore.