Discipline and restraint aren’t words you would normally associate with Converge, the band that built metalcore on the back of feedback, dissonance and spasms of furious violence. And yet, Dusk In Us finds the band composing concise songs with distinct easily digestible hooks and messages. After seven studio albums and 17 years as a band Converge haven’t gotten soft, they’ve gotten wise.
Lead singer Jacob Bannon, known for screeching about heartache and betrayal, tackles larger themes including the modern political climate. Album opener “A Single Tear” is a hardcore blitz reminiscent the “Aimless Arrow” on 2012’s All We Love We Leave Behind. When the hardcore gang singalong hits Bannon isn’t looking for a fight he’s recalling the first time he heard his child cry. “When I held you for the first time/I knew I had to survive,” he proclaims amidst the chaos.
Bannon is looking outward rather than in and he doesn’t like what he sees. Guitarist and producer Kurt Ballou has thousands of way to complement Bannon’s emotion–from straight punk riffage, to complex
“Under Duress” throbs along like Black Flag covering The Pixies. “I will never kneel and kiss your ring/The sickness spreads under duress/ Compassion bends under duress/Wouldn’t need a gun if you didn’t have one/Don’t need you to serve or protect” shouts Bannon, his voice sounding something like a rabid dog being pushed through a cheese grater.
“I Can Tell You About Pain” dives into the post-metal noise rock of bands like Kowloon Walled City and Isis. The song twists and turns with prodigious drummer Ben Koller holding his sticks in check–playing just enough. He’s had the chance to blow his stack while working on his Mutoid Man side project–so here he serves the song, not himself.
The album has a few post-metal interludes with Bannon singing like a normal human being and they are effective but get lost among the relentless pit-stirrers like “Broken By Light” and “Cannibals.”
The band explores sleazy blues-inspired noise on “Trigger.”
“The world’s a trigger seemingly without end/You have to bury the gun to finally make sense of it!” Bannon screams before demanding, “Was it worth it?”
It’s album closer “Reptilian” that will likely remain on Converge’s set list for years to come. Some critics have called the track pure Sabbath worship which in a roundabout way is true. The track shares its DNA with “Wolverine Blues” an Entombed song Converge covered in 2012 in a split with Napalm Death. It’s the kind of meeting of hardcore sensibilities, the spasmic nature of grindcore and the deep sludge of Sabbath that Converge has combined to form their sound. “Reptilian” sounds as as much like a mission statement as it does a love letter. “Futile wars for fruitless words/Written by shadow kings
Their shrapnel seeds the desert fields/ And sprouts this fear we see,” Bannon screams–it’s a modern-day “War Pigs.”
Fans, as they’re want to do, will counter all the positive reviews of the album with a familiar refrain– “It’s no Jane Doe,” referring to the 2001 album that grew the band’s fan base exponentially. And they’re right, it isn’t Jane Doe– It’s better.