By virtue, when personal attachment and fondness are shared, desire is kindled for closeness in proximity. We are creatures driven by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, regardless of the various subjective forms these emotions might constitute. Fittingly, contact is yearned for whenever distance becomes a subjugating variable; a longing unfolds for those who are missed and determination to return ensues. However, it’s also natural to depart from the cherished and to flee from familiarity — we are condemned to be free, after all, destined to make illogical decisions and disappear out of sight.
The lead single from All We Love We Leave Behind sees Converge dwelling on these irrational flights. “Violence without purpose/ Born of broken hearts,” the aimless arrow, the pointed weapon that follows an unknown trajectory of absurdity tears through the air without purpose or remorse, severing the skin of whoever crosses its path. Taking desultory flight and abandoning the comfort of a sturdy crossbow may become an acceptable social norm metaphorically, but when the object let fly is as rampant and sharp as the artillery set to follow this seething track, which also cranks open the gateway of All We Love We Leave Behind, repercussions of the irrational take on a fierce sense of implication.
For Converge, meaning is a transient and instinctive foothold for the listener that compels behavior, ranging from balanced restraint to abrasive recklessness. The music that this seasoned Boston foursome creates has always harbored bellicose manifestations through their chosen aesthetic, from the cult classic When Forever Comes Crashing to their monumental landmark Jane Doe hence, but frontman Jacob Bannon has always taken into account the futility of attempting to sway audience perceptions once recordings are made available. Indeed, the artist has very little control over how their work might make the audience feel. This stance is bold but well-reasoned, despite the personal nature of the lyrics expressed within the group’s punishingly kinetic style, which never fails to invoke scenes of frenzy. This has always been music to move to, projected in a space where state of mind may otherwise appear irrelevant.
What the band adheres to on its latest offering embodies an effort to assimilate live recording, an album that doesn’t involve collaboration with other artists and is recorded in its most organic form, with minimal after effects. To further the level of participation in the production process, All We Love We Leave Behind was recorded by guitarist Kurt Ballou at his Godcity studios in Massachusetts, with additional mixing by Bannon, Nate Newton, and Ben Koller. This extraordinarily high degree of complicity sees Converge treating the very core of their production to ensure every track adheres to the angle they hope to achieve, a radical exemplification of the hardcore approach that these artists pursue not only aesthetically, but also through their means of assembly. These artists enjoy working together, and even with over a decade of creating art as a stable unit, they have never sounded so concise and attentive.
As far as thematic intent and sonic structures are concerned, the band continues to integrate a rich tapestry of hardcore punk, metal, and mathcore among tales of love, loss, and bitterness. Bannon’s hardened holler, demonstrated flawlessly on “Aimless Arrow,” is as equally abundant as it was on 2009’s Axe to Fall, which creates a splendid contrast to the blazing screams that were utilized so meticulously on earlier material. This is particularly apparent on “Coral Blue,” a slow, scraping, and tormented metal jam that also sees the singer experimenting with softer tones, a half whisper that soon spirals into a thumping chorus belted by Newton.
Although the longer and slower tracks on the album are quite majestic, the rampant, blood-curdling, circa 90-second tracks carry much more clout: “Tender Abuse” is a thrashing rampage of the most ferocious kind that, in spite of its rapidity, maintains a calculated breakdown towards its demise, which perfectly pitches the pace for the proceeding track. Both timing and agility remain paramount here, from “Sparrow’s Fall” — with its twisted mathcore tangents and crushing vocals — to the cutting metal riffs of “Sadness Comes Home.” And then there’s the title track, which spins lead guitar machinations over tumbling percussion before slipping into a hardcore punk free-fall that wholly aligns itself with the subjects of sorrow, pain, and remorse that recur throughout.
Irrational behavior is integral to cognitive thinking, and it often goes unexplained, regardless of whether it leads to loneliness and desperation or wealth and good fortune. But there is always a tipping point, a fine line in decision-making where the scales can tilt either way, and depending on where they land, aggression may mercilessly dwell somewhere in the depths. This (temporary) delirium prompt is present across the board, and there are many methods of managing it in accordance with lifestyle choices and through subcultural embrace. The hardcore aesthetic that Converge front is visible in the decisions they make both as individuals and as a collective — adhering to straight-edge principles, recording their own albums, choosing not to have a manager — consequently shape models within their music. All We Love We Leave Behind entices kinetic release in every possible way, irrational and otherwise, allowing unchecked ventilation as means for escape through a medium that has never sounded so engaging.