So just so you know, this is less a review of the production updates to Converge's classic album and more of an excuse to vomit praise all over it. Alright then. Hopefully by now you are aware of Massachusetts post-hardcore/mathcore/hardcore/noise metal band Converge. The group released their first songs back in 1994, but it wasn't until 2001's Jane Doe that the scene truly exploded. These guys were the talk of the town with most reviewers heralding it as a masterpiece. So how do you follow up such an album? Well, if you're Converge, you just do whatever the fuck you want to do.
Personally, I find myself listening to You Fail Me more often than Jane Doe. I love all of the band's output and admire how they have managed to continue to bring the raw energy and memorable hooks to every single new addition. But there is just something about this one. I still remember the feeling I got the first time I heard the glorious transition from "First Light"'s haunting guitar intro to "Last Light"'s explosion of catharsis. And this is one of those rare cases where I still get that exact same feeling when I listen to it today. It is impossible for me to not sing along.
While the previous album played a lot with progressive structures and conceptual ideas, You Fail Me goes straight for the throat. Repeatedly. You've got songs like "Hope Street" that convey more violence and emotion in 1 minute than most songs can in 10. Much of this is due to the fact that everyone is absolutely on point when it comes to their instruments. Kurt's guitar crunches and wails with the perfect ratio of dissonance to structure. The drums are apocalyptic in terms of both presence and technical showmanship. The band rarely goes more than a few measures sticking to the same pattern or time signature. And all the while, Jacob's unmatched, instantly recognizable shriek infuses every ounce of bile into each syllable.
More importantly, all of this is delivered as if the members were all joined in some sort of mind-meld. The interplay between them is airtight, and the result is monstrous. Even when playing with simplified arrangements like the title track, Converge make it sound like the most cataclysmic song ever recorded. Every time "You Fail Me" comes on I feel like the world is collapsing around me, and I'm just standing there grinning...as if to say "I told you so." You can't learn how to write songs like that. While the band is certainly skilled in their playing, it's their perfect storm of finding one another and bringing the same..."essence" to the table that makes it work.
I could go on and on about this one. The beautiful, haunting acoustic performance on "In Her Shadow," the vicious punk-inspired assault of "Eagles Become Vultures;" it's all good, baby. I saw them perform some of these tracks in Chicago when they opened for Mastodon and Dethklok, and they still crush every one of them just as strong live as in the studio. Kurt is an amazing metal producer, but the true power of this band comes to light long before any knobs are turned. It's truly amazing how much vitriol they manage to squeeze out of every single note. It's in the guitar tone, it's in every snare strike, it's in every terrifying howl. To remove even on element would be like taking a Sharpe to a Van Gogh.
If you have not taken a trip with this album yet, now is as good a time as any. Just make sure you do it. Converge is in a league of their own in every possible way, so much so that classifying them into any particular genre is an act of futility. As I joked not too long ago, I end up refering to them as "post-mathcore," which is really just a pretentious way of saying I have no idea what they are. They simply are. And You Fail Me is just one of their many shining achievements that needs to be heard. Get to it. And buy it RIGHT HERE.