Twelve years and literally thousands of miles since they took The Long Road Home, Converge return with Thousands of Miles Between Us, their latest visual release.
Opening with the chaotic "Concubine," the visual cuts are quick here, giving the sense of chaos that comes with one of the band's sets. The fast-paced nature of their music makes the editing feel appropriate, though the visual team behind the release (Jimmy Hubbard, Ian McFarland and the band's own Jacob Bannon) pull back on the speed as necessary, such as on "Worms Will Feed / Rats Will Feast" and set-closer "You Fail Me." Angles swap on cues both musical and visual, with stage-diving fans, hopping band members, air-punches and the outstretched, oft-beckoning appendages of vocalist Bannon all getting screen time.
The performance is captured from the front, both sides and even from behind; a drum cam to the left of Ben Koller is particularly intriguing, allowing the viewer to see the drummer's intricate and quick playing up close, while observing the sheer excitement he radiates while playing. The good times are matched by Bannon, who interacts with the audience, making jokes, imitating a would-be stage diver's attempt to secure a place to fall when he unexpectedly got caught on stage as a song ended, and slow dancing with an audience member for a few seconds before shoving him into the audience to finish the stage dive he initially stormed the stage to make. It's the kind of stuff that keeps the show human and, well, punk rock, despite playing in the 1,200-capacity Union Transfer in Philadelphia.
Any quibbles with the to be made about the film are minor: the one camera angle on bassist Nate Newton's side of the stage is noticeably brighter than the others, while a stationary camera behind Koller lacks stability, and fails to capture the visuals as cleanly as the others.
Sonically, the team of Alan Douches and guitarist/producer Kurt Ballou did an excellent job capturing the audio cleanly enough to encourage listens without the visual accompaniment, a good thing for hardcore Converge fans, who will appreciate live recorded versions of songs new ("Trespasses," "Aimless Arrow," "Glacial Pace," "Tender Abuse") and old ("The Saddest Day," "My Unsaid Everything," "Bitter and Then Some," "The Broken Vow").
Though there's not a single defining characteristic or anything in particular to set this set apart from any other Converge set — hell, this isn't even in their hometown or even home state — it doesn't need that; the average Converge set, captured well, puts to shame the best production of any other band.
The digital download of this set will set you back less than an audio download of most new albums at only $5, and if you spring for the physical copy, there are two more discs (over 15 hours) of "live performances, interviews, features, music videos, covers and more."
"Bitter and Then Some"
"All We Love We Leave Behind"
"Sadness Comes Home"
"My Unsaid Everything"
"Worms Will Feed/Rats Will Feast"
"On My Shield"
"Axe to Fall"
"Empty on the Inside"
"Eagles Become Vultures"
"The Broken Vow"
"You Fail Me"
"The Saddest Day"