by Diana Ciuca
Thrash Metal: Converge’s Axe to Fall
Analyzing Hardcore Heavy Metal is almost as difficult as moshing in a pit to it. The sheer intensity of the song isn’t meant to be broken down and picked at, it’s supposed to be felt. Converge’s new album (coming out October 20th) keeps throwing rapid punches of guitar and drums at you throughout their album “Axe to Fall.”
THE first song on the album, Dark Horse, initially comes as a surprise yet finally slows down midway through the song. Then tension is built up through the gradual increasing magnitude of the guitar and drums which culminates with ‘metal-core’ screaming. The next song, Reap What you Sow (2), consisted of even less audible screaming, with more musical force than before complemented by a ridiculously fast tempo. However, the issue with music like this is that if you’re not a fan, you can hardly appreciate the subtleties in each song (such as the difference between chords and variety of screams). I’ve been to local screamo shows, and they don’t have the energy that Converge exhibits, especially in the first few songs.
Their album is absolutely mind-blowing, in a scream-guitar-scream-drums kind of way. Nevertheless, the band proves their malleability throughout the rest of the album. At times I feel that Converge should stop ‘attacking me with music,’ but I would be mistaken to contend that the band would want to do anything less than roll with the punches (or high tempo guitar chords, in this case). The album sometimes progresses like a machine gun of noise, yet eventually slows down towards the end of the album and of several songs like Axe to Fall (3). That slow tempo is idyllic (relative to the rest of the songs). Furthermore, the high pitched guitar sounds unexpectedly add another facet to the band’s overall sound in the song Effigy (4) .
But then again, the addition of yet another pitch is like spreading mustard on a hot dog of music which is already saturated with ketchup, relish, mayonnaise, soy sauce, onions, and raspberries. In song Worms to Feed (5), the lead finally slows down with an almost angry Led Zeppelin-like guitar. Finally, this song exposes a more experimental side of the band with a spectacular ending. Worms to Feed, my personal favorite, it more variety to the typical rip chords and machine gun drums, but maintains generally the same feeling of heavy metal. The song Damages (7) probably doesn’t do as much damage to your hearing aids as you might expect; it seems almost refreshingly different. The feedback juxtaposes you in the “cliffhanger” stage of the whole album where you’re wondering if the band will soften up their style or keep pounding the guitar. To my joy, they eventually let go of the incessant noise saturated chords but only after songs 8-12 of more repetitive rip chords. They definitely are stimulating, yet it leaves you expecting something more.
Since I’m such a sissy when it comes to music that makes my speakers tremble constantly, Cruel Bloom (12) strikes me as a relieving break from the rest of the album. The muted voice (a legitimate voice, not screaming!) with the dreamy guitar sounds like the original Heavy Metal of Ozzy Osbourne. With a pendulum rhythm, the intro to Wretched World, the last song (13), represents the beginning of the end. With a slight resemblance to Smashing Pumpkins, the album eerily finishes with extended chords instead of the pounding ones we were introduced to at the beginning of the album. The energetic, electric discord which fades into a soft harmony parallels the overall structure of the album. Whether this was the band’s intention or not, “Axe to Converge” was a connected journey through heavy metal- beginning with extreme noise distortion and leading through various ups and downs of guitar tempos and pitches, and finally culminating with a slow, mellow denouement.