Converge - Bloodmoon: I Music Album Reviews

Converge - Bloodmoon: I Music Album Reviews
After 30 years together, the hardcore dynamos hit a nadir. Their collaborative album with Chelsea Wolfe and Stephen Brodsky is exhausting and predictable, a ceaseless barrage of the banal.

Converge have never been big on acting their age. Consider 2017’s The Dusk in Us, released as the band neared the end of its third decade. On the opening track, vocalist Jacob Bannon hurled himself into guitarist Kurt Ballou’s boobytrapped thicket of riffs like a teenager dive-bombing from the stage apron of their first hardcore gig. They occasionally came up for air during those 44 minutes, but The Dusk in Us mostly felt as splenetic and urgent as their breakthrough, Jane Doe, an album by then old enough to drive. In 30 years, the quartet has taken multiple forays into doom, noise, and musclebound rock, but they’ve always returned to warped hardcore. Outliers in a field where vim and nuance tend to trade places with age, Converge always seemed renewed by the collision, an inspiring trait as three-quarters of the band approach 50.

Their new album Bloodmoon: I is the first time Converge have truly shown their wear. For these 11 tracks, they resort to a trick so predictable even Itchy and Scratchy tried it: Add new members to an old mix that always worked. Gothic singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe and Cave In livewire (and former Converge member) Stephen Brodsky wrote and recorded Bloodmoon with the band, following years of sporadic collaborations. About half the time, as on the arcing opener, the results are a kind of Converge With Friends affair, the flagship’s primal fits given extra melodic or theatrical flair. For the rest, as on the smoke-haloed doom of “Scorpion’s Sting,” Converge sound as if they’re trying to be anything other than themselves, to shake loose hardcore strictures once and for all. These new forms mostly flatter no one; bloated, maudlin, and tiresome, Bloodmoon is the surprising nadir of a career that long seemed dauntless.

Every bit of Bloodmoon, of course, isn’t a waste. After an initial 2019 session, lockdown stymied further real-time collaborations, meaning the bulk of the record was built via pen-pal exchange. Especially considering that Ballou, one of metal’s most vital producers, patched the album together from these long-distance pieces, it sounds phenomenal, its complex layers tucked together with the intricacy and care of a prize-winning baklava. Thrilling little moments lurk in the recesses—the barbed glissandi beneath the outbursts of “Blood Moon,” the bells twinkling around Nate Newton’s jarring bass on “Flower Moon,” the way Wolfe and Bannon tangle with the heat of Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen during “Crimson Stone.” Taking lead vocals on “Failure Forever,” Brodsky coaxes Converge into relaxing just enough to net a pop-metal winner, a stern anthem of perseverance with a soft hook at the center. “Viscera of Men” slides gracefully between hardcore pummel and operatic majesty; when those styles meet about 40 seconds into the song, it is scintillating, a concise demonstration of how to play well with others.

But such thrills are few and far between amid this hour-long morass. Bloodmoon suffers from two problems that seem as though they should preclude one another: It is thin on fresh ideas and unexpected twists. Its hard rock-meets-hardcore permutations are familiar to anyone who has ever heard, say, Evanescence and Breaking Benjamin. Despite those predictable modes, the sounds are so overdone and unfocused that listening in one sitting is exhausting. The ghoulish chants of “Tongues Playing Dead,” the overwrought crisscrossing harmonies of “Daimon,” reams of purple poetry about liars and cowards and flowers and (obviously) moons that say so very little—Bloodmoon feels like a prog-rock collage built from the scraps of the overblown metal bands that tend to get nominated for Grammys. It is a ceaseless barrage of the banal.

For a decade now, Wolfe’s own albums have colored in shades of dark gray, and those spells have sometimes worked. Pushed too hard, however, her limited palette can start to feel like costume-shop occultism. That happens on Bloodmoon, as Wolfe’s increasingly predictable parts hamstring the momentum. “Lord of Liars” thrills with tech-metal flashes, but Wolfe’s refrain drapes them like blackout curtains, blocking out the frisson. Both the heaviness of her heartsick waltz, “Scorpion’s Sting,” and the darkness of her spectral conjuring, “Coil,” feel superficial. In these moments, you wonder what Windhand leader Dorthia Cottrell or singer-songwriter and Thou collaborator Emma Ruth Rundle—powerful and believable singers whose blues feel more lived-in—could have done in her stead.

Ahead of Bloodmoon, Brodsky said, “It’s been a real treat to see one of my favorite bands continue to do cool stuff and break the molds.… It’s a very rare thing in this kind of music to go an experimental route and challenge the ‘rules.’” Right on, man. But is there anything more cliché in rock’n’roll than the band that hangs on too long, fading away slowly with live versions of classic albums and guest-laden clusterfucks? Bloodmoon is indeed the latter, the sound of a band adding some different fuel to its 30-year-old fire. Here’s hoping the embers still burn after this noxious smoke has cleared.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Converge - Bloodmoon: I Music Album Reviews Converge - Bloodmoon: I Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 26, 2021 Rating: 5


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