Converge Have Innovation Through Suffering
"I can tell you that if any of this was going on six months before, I don't even know if I would be here right now," says Converge front-man/design terrorist Jacob Bannon, on the events behind the most anticipated record in metallic hardcore this year, Jane Doe.
"I was going through a huge amount of turmoil in my life when we were writing and recording," Jake reveals about Jane Doe's inspiration. "I had lost a relationship I was in for five years, which I'm still dealing with. I've been diagnosed as a severe manic-depressive and there's not much I can do aside from cope and deal with the consequences. Much of the album revolves around that and losing yourself, searching for some sort of identity when you become nameless and faceless due to the circumstances in your own life."
Boston-based Converge's ten-year existence has been fraught by the kind of lofty expectations and challenging concepts that suffuse Jane Doe, Converge's fourth full-length and third for Equal Vision Records. Formed by core members Jacob Bannon and guitarist Kurt Ballou, (rounded out by guitarist Aaron Dalbec, bassist Nate Newton and latest addition, drummer Ben Koller), Converge has risen from their inauspicious beginnings, playing to empty rooms in the desolate Boston underground scene of the early '90s. They've evolved from their more metalcore leanings to become one of the genre's leading innovators. In the process, they've played a substantial part in rebuilding Boston's burgeoning aggressive scene, released a string of landmark albums, and become one of the most recognisable names in the underground, all on their own terms.
Their first full-length CD, Caring and Killing (HydraHead, '96, originally released on Lost and Found, '95), showed only glimpses of what was to come; but was hamstrung by lacklustre production, sloppy execution and half-formed ideas. It was with the release of Petitioning The Empty Sky (Equal Vision '97, originally released on Ferret in ‘96) that Converge's mix of metallic staples, hardcore and punk-influenced structures, and anthemic emotional explorations, coupled with stark poetic lyrics and an artistic presentation, truly began to blossom. With Petitioning…, Converge foreshadowed and defined a style of hardcore that thrives in popularity to this day.
Continually staying ahead of the throngs of metallic hardcore acts emerging in their wake, Converge recorded When Forever Comes Crashing (Equal Vision, '98), with the Reverend Steve Austin, of Today is the Day infamy. It pushed the artistic limits of Converge to new levels of anguish, while musically evolving a noisier, atmospheric and emotionally devastating brand of metallic hardcore, spurned on by complex playing and truly vicious vocals, yet retaining subtle sonic handholds. Forever kept Converge ahead of a hardcore scene dominated by uninspired mosh-metal, while perfectly reflecting hardcore's upcoming twists and turns, in turn dictating a number of them.
The technically ruthless slant explored on Converge's split with Agoraphobic Nosebleed, The Poacher Diaries (Relapse, '99), was an aggressive aside, taking Converge's technical mayhem to its extremes just as the complicated sub-genre of hardcore was finding its footing. Their split with Japan's Hellchild, Deeper The Wound (Deathwish Inc., '01), was merely a taste of their forthcoming release, Jane Doe.
With the impending release of Jane Doe, Converge has once again embarked upon a new path, eschewing any of the current trends in the metallic hardcore underground and refusing to rewrite their past successes. Jane Doe is one of the darkest, bleakest, most unrelenting and punishing acts of musical emoting ever committed to disc, even warranting an advance web site (www.meetjanedoe.com), preparing the unwary for what was to come. Essentially a 12-step conceptual journey, including a striking and beautifully disturbing 28-page booklet of accompanying art, the whole package takes Converge's musical aggression, creativity and penchant for artistic nihilism-as-therapy to unparalleled emotional depths.
"We have crafted an album that is essentially about all the same subject matter and dealing with the coping process. It's realistic and it's true to life; it's a really human record. There are no punches pulled in that respect, there's no ridiculous use of visual metaphors. This is not [Queensrÿche's legendary and fanciful overblown concept album] Operation: Mindcrime," offers Jake, about Jane Doe's brooding conceptual themes. "It's a record that's about emotion and experience, about life and how grey and complex it is and how bleak things can be."
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