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Music / Converge

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Related Acts:
  • Supermachiner (Bannon & Ballou)
  • Cave In (Koller, also ex-bassist Stephen Brodsky)
  • Mutoid Man (Koller, Brodsky)
  • Code Orange (formerly Code Orange Kids; handpicked for label by Bannon, mentored/produced by Ballou)
  • Old Man Gloom (Newton)
  • Doomriders (Newton)
  • Bane (former guitarist Aaron Dalbec)
  • Jesuit (Nate Newton played in them, alongside future The Dillinger Escape Plan guitarist Brian Benoit)
  • All Pigs Must Die (Koller)
  • Wear Your Wounds (Bannon)
  • United Nations (Koller)
  • Umbra Vitae (Bannon)
Converge is a Metalcore band formed in 1990 in Salem, Massachusetts, which has released nine studio albums to date. Considered to be a founding father of the genre, the band helped define many facets of metallic hardcore for many bands to come.

They are well-known for their early and distinctive blend of extreme metal, hardcore punk and noise rock, coupled with the various vocal stylings of Jacob Bannon. As such they have a very distinctive style, albeit one very abrasive and possibly unpleasant to first-time listeners. Despite this, Converge has won a large fanbase and critical acclaim, with Sputnikmusic calling their 2001 album Jane Doe the best album of the 2000s.

The band currently consists of:

  • Jacob Bannon (vocals, lyrics, visual art)
  • Kurt Ballou (guitar, vocals, bass guitar, keyboards, theremin, saxophone, percussion, recording/production)
  • Nate Newton (bass guitar, vocals)
  • Ben Koller (drums, vocals)

Studio albums:

  • Halo in a Haystack (1994)
  • Petitioning the Empty Sky (1996)
  • When Forever Comes Crashing (1998)
  • Jane Doe (2001)
  • You Fail Me (2004)
  • No Heroes (2006)
  • Axe to Fall (2009)
  • All We Love We Leave Behind (2012)
  • The Dusk in Us (2017)
  • Bloodmoon: Act I (With Chelsea Wolfe and others.) (2021)

You fail me with every fatal trope:

  • Ambiguous Disorder: Kurt Ballou mentioned in an interview that he has some aspie tendencies, which he believes explains his obsessive focus.
  • Break-Up Song: The entire album Jane Doe.
  • Careful with That Axe: Arguably the band's most defining characteristic. Behold.
  • Concept Album: Jane Doe is sort of one, dealing with the aftermath of a bad relationship.
  • Cover Version: "Disintegration" by The Cure, "Serial Killer" by Vio-lence, "Snowblind" by Black Sabbath, "Weinerschnitzel" by Descendents, "Wolverine Blues" by Entombed, "Annihilate This Week" by Black Flag, "Whatever I Do" by Negative Approach and "Clean" by Depeche Mode.
  • Cross Referenced Title:
    • "Phoenix in Flight" on Jane Doe is followed by "Phoenix in Flames".
    • The first two tracks on You Fail Me are "First Light" and "Last Light", the former being a 1 minute intro track. Also on the album are two tracks called "In Her Blood" and "In Her Shadow".
    • The first track on Bloodmoon: I is called "Blood Moon", the final track is called "Blood Dawn".
  • Despair Event Horizon: A common theme from When Forever Comes Crashing and Jane Doe, most prominently featured in Hell to Pay:
  • Doom Metal: "Wretched World", "Coral Blue", and basically all of Bloodmoon: Act I.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Halo in a Haystack is much, much simpler and more lo-fi than every album after it. The albums before Ben Koller's joining also sound significantly different than those after (see Growing the Beard on the YMMV page), both due to his absence and the comparatively dry, stripped-down production.
  • Epic Rocking: A handful of their songs, including "Grim Heart/Black Rose" (9:34), "The Saddest Day" (7:05), "Wretched World" (7:10), "Homesong" (6:00), "In Her Shadow" (6:25), "The Dusk in Us" (7:23), "Jane Doe" (11:32) and their covers of "Disintegration" (6:45) and "Clean" (6:03)
  • Grief Song: Lots, "Dark Horse" a particularly well-known example.
  • Grindcore: Not really, though it's a very obvious influence on their sound, what with the frequent use of D-beats, blastbeats, Jacob Bannon's high-pitched screaming and numerous quite short songs.
  • Harsh Vocals: Oh God yes. Jacob Bannon's vocal style is unusually high-pitched and screechy for hardcore punk, and has been compared to that of an angry pterodactyl.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: It helps to consider any printed more like accompanying poetry than what Jacob is singing.
  • Last Note Nightmare: The previously mentioned "Phoenix in Flames" is one song's worth of this, as it follows the downtempo, almost shoegazey "Phoenix in Flight".
  • Long-Runner Line-up: Since Aaron Dalbec's leaving in 2001, their line-up has remained constant as of 2023.
  • Loudness War: Everything from Jane Doe onwards is completely brickwalled. This is probably due to the influence of mastering engineer Alan Douches.
    • Subverted in the vinyl reissues that have come out since 2010. There are a few of the louder areas which suffer some clipping, but that can't really be helped given the nature of the music.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Jane Doe, one of the angriest and most emotionally raw albums of all time, was written about a nasty breakup.
    • Their music in general is amongst the heaviest metalcore gets while their lyrics are comparatively poignant and emotional.
  • Metalcore: One of the heaviest bands in the genre, if not the heaviest.
  • Metal Scream: One of the few Metalcore bands to use Type 3 as their main style of singing. Type 1 is also sometimes used.
  • Miniscule Rocking: Plenty of their songs. The opening of No Heroes, for example, goes through 5 songs in about 7 minutes.
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: When he's not screaming, Jacob Bannon's singing voice is like this, and if they have a guest vocalist in the chances are they'll sing like this too.
  • Post-Hardcore: Not quite but the genre has an audible influence on the several of the band's albums including Petitioning the Empty Sky, All We Love We Leave Behind, and even a few cuts on Jane Doe
    • The Dusk in Us has probably the most blatant post-hardcore influences to date, with several tracks being almost straightforward examples, most notably "A Single Tear" and "Trigger"
  • Progressive Metal: A big influence on the sound of Axe to Fall.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Inverted like hell. They look very unassuming, but produce some of the most extreme and harrowing music put to record.
  • Sludge Metal: As with grindcore and post-hardcore, they aren't a sludge band *per se*, but it is definitely an influence on their records from Jane Doe onwards. See the songs "Under Duress", "Jane Doe", "Empty on the Inside", "Plagues", "Worms Will Feed/Rats Will Feast", "Damages", "Predatory Glow", and "Glacial Pace"
    • It was definitely a major influence on the sound of Axe to Fall
    • They appear to be diving into this genre fully with Bloodmoon: I
  • Solo Side Project: The list of side projects various Converge members have been involved in is as long as your arm, and several of them (namely Old Man Gloom, All Pigs Must Die, and Mutoid Man) are bonafide supergroups.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Most of Converge's vocals are Jacob Bannon's tortured screams, but he throws in occasional singing as well (see "Phoenix in Flight" and "Jane Doe" for examples). If there are guest vocalists, they will also frequently provide a Soprano to Bannon's Gravel.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: At least once an album. "Ten Cents" on When Forever Comes Crashing, "Phoenix in Flight" on Jane Doe (and, at a push, "Hell to Pay" as well), "First Light" and "In Her Shadow" on You Fail Me, "Grim Heart/Black Rose" on No Heroes (although the very end is fairly heavy), "Cruel Bloom" and "Wretched World" on Axe to Fall, "Precipice/All We Love We Leave Behind" on All We Love We Leave Behind and "The Dusk in Us" and "Thousands of Miles Between Us" on The Dusk in Us. "Phoenix in Flight" subverts it with its coda "Phoenix in Flames" (see Last Note Nightmare above).
  • Textless Album Cover: All We Love We Leave Behind and all of their split EPs.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Subverted- the raw, unrefined and driving sound made them famous, but they base a lot of their songs on polyrhythmic drumming and complex guitar work.
  • Title Track: On every album from When Forever Comes Crashing onwards.
  • Trope Codifier: For metallic hardcore, and arguably mathcore as well.
  • Uncommon Time: Their frenetic time signature changes laid the groundwork for what would later be called mathcore.
  • Vanity Publishing: Deathwish Inc., Jacob Bannon's record label, has been accused of this. It's hardly surprising that some of their earliest releases were his solo projects, and they have a history of signing their local buddies (namely The Hope Conspiracy, Trap Them, and Backstabbers Incorporated) as well.
  • Vocal Evolution: Jacob Bannon's signature "velociraptor screech" has gotten more phlegmy and slightly lower pitched as time has gone on, likely due to strain caused by the difficulty innate in executing them.