CONVERGE’s highly anticipated Axe to Fall album immediately storms out of the gate, pummeling the listener with an unmatched aural onslaught. The first four tracks, “Dark Horse,” “Reap What You Sow,” “Axe to Fall,” and “Effigy,” waste no time flooring the listener with balls-out extremity. Driven by the pushing, restless drumming of Ben Koller, who executes with finesse and flavor, as does Kurt Ballou, whose guitars dance around with maniacal grace. The flow is fluid and bounces with such a natural spontaneity, you don’t want to come down from that high. The way the album begins is right on the money.
But all is not just blood and violence… the album suddenly shifts gears to the dissonant yet crushing two-part “Worms Will Feed/Rats Will Feast,” which is parallel with the two-part “Grim Heart/Black Rose” track off their previous No Heroes album.
Axe to Fall is perhaps the band’s most interestingly diverse album. The album’s two closing tracks are mellow but rich with melody. “Cruel Blood” is a jangley track with a bluesy, folksy vibe that’s dark and haunting, yet complete with a sway side-to-side groove and sing-a-long (or hum-a-long)-friendly chorus. “Wretched World” is a somber shoegaze number that twinkles with harmonics. You won’t find yourself skipping over these closers. Both are dark yet full of color.
CONVERGE’s landmark Jane Doe album will forever be the measuring stick by which their music (and others’) will forever be compared to. And it’s amazing to experience an album that has matched that level of musical excellence and fervor. Axe to Fall is 110% CONVERGE and has easily succeeded in meeting (and quite possibly surpassing) everyone’s expectations. (Epitaph Records)