It’s impossible for me to have an objective opinion about Converge, having loved the band since I first heard them over ten years ago. Their work ethic, the immense quality of their creative output and the fact that they are never stopping, never failing, commands them much respect in the world of heavy music. They are a hardcore band to be admired.
Tonight (Apr 13) saw their Blood Moon show come to London’s Electric in Brixton. It promised to be something different with the addition of three guest musicians, Stephen Brodsky, Chelsea Wolfe and Ben Chisholm, and with the entire group creating new renditions of existing Converge material, particularly their lesser-heard and slower work.
There was some concern that a transition away from their usual pummelling ferocity and break-neck speed wouldn’t satisfy but as soon as Kurt Ballou (guitar) and Brodsky walked on stage and simultaneously opened up with the brutal, down-tuned, palm-muted riff of ‘Plagues’, the doubt was gone. They were soon joined by Ben Koller (drums), Jacob Bannon (vocals) and Nate Newton (bass), the song kicked in and smiling, banging heads were to be seen everywhere.
After a brief thank you to the crowd from Bannon, they launched into ‘In Her Blood’ followed by the expansive ‘Grim Heart/Black Rose’.
The delay-soaked guitar of Ballou signified the start of their cover of The Cure’s ‘Disintegration’. This was one of the highlights with sparse, duelling guitars and whispered vocals inevitably giving way to explosive howling from Bannon, pounding, double-kick lead drums from Koller and walls of thick guitars.
Wolfe then took her place next to Bannon and saw the collective play ‘Cruel Bloom’ and ‘Wretched World’ the closing tracks to the 2009 album, Axe to Fall. ‘Wretched World’ was another high point with the soft, Hope Sandoval-esque crooning of Wolfe pressed together with the heavy bellowing of both Ballou and Newton.
A slow, brilliant, almost unrecognisable version of ‘Last Light’ came and went with Bannon and Wolfes ghostly vocals drifting over feedback to then again give way to a brutally heavy ending.
There was a brief respite before the set was ended with a crowd favourite, the 12 minute epic, ‘Jane Doe’, which ended with intense, cascading walls of noise and Bannon on his knees barking and bleeding sweat into the mic in front of an adoring crowd.
As one of only four European cities visited by Converge on this tour, it felt truly fortunate to witness such a unique show and once again reaffirmed they are crushingly brilliant with whatever they choose to do.
2. In Her Blood
3. Grim Heart/Black Rose
4. Coral Blue
6. Disintegration (The Cure)
7. Cruel Bloom
8. Wretched World
9. In Her Shadow
10. Last Light
11. Jane Doe