By Eric Perzanowski, Contributor
[Epitaph / Deathwish]; 2017
Key Tracks: “Reptilian”, “The Dusk In Us”, “A Single Tear”
It’s been five years since hardcore icons Converge blessed us with All We Love We Leave Behind. Throughout the band’s 27-year existence, these five years marked the longest gap between albums for the group. The Dusk In Us is a well-crafted return that showcases the band’s maturity and mastery of the hardcore genre, and is bound to throw many year-end lists into turmoil.
The album’s opener, “A Single Tear”, starts off sonically similar to All We Love We Leave Behind’s intro, “Aimless Arrow”, in the beginning notes. The aforementioned maturity is immediately heard in the reflective first line: “I was so naive and fearful of the substantive”. It sets a tone for the rest of the album of themes of survival and transcending our basic instinct.
The pacing of The Dusk In Us is impeccable. It’s weird to mention the pace in which a mere 44-minute album flows, but in today’s heavy music scene, it seems as if more and more bands are opting for compactness and brevity with their releases, or, the “all pit, no shit” mentality. This feels like a much shorter album than in actuality, and at the end of it, we’re left wanting more (fortunately, we may actually get it), but not needing more.
Besides the sequencing of tracks, the variety of styles is a contributing factor to this flow. There are your more traditional Converge songs, like “Wildlife”. “Under Duress” has a more mid-tempo rhythm without compromising any hardcore fury. The titular track and “Thousands of Miles Between Us” are two slow, gloomy masterpieces. While the former diverges from the melancholic atmosphere during its climactic crescendo, neither of these are typical of Converge’s previous work. In fact, they sound more aligned with material from vocalist Jacob Bannon’s solo project Wear Your Wounds.
Vocally, Converge is as cogent as ever. While Bannon’s piercing shrieks and growls are still the main vocal focus (and here, they feel grimier in comparison to previous works), what was most endearing about Bannon’s work was the clarity in the delivery of certain lines throughout. For example, on “Reptilian”: “We must lose sight of the shore, to know what courage means / We must lose sight of who we are, to know what we can be.” These lines hold poetic power when simply read. However, when it’s delivered with the boiling emotions that Bannon conveys, it makes it even more impactful. As a side note, wailing along to these lines in the shower is extremely therapeutic.
The Dusk In Us is a grand piece of work for Converge, who reminded those in need of reminding that they are one of the most prolific and influential bands in their genre. Nine albums deep into a 27-year existence and this Bay State quartet continue on with just as much frantic energy as their contemporary counterparts. Whatever steps, if any, the group may have lost in terms of rhythm and speed is made up for with craft and experience.