Converge: The Dusk in Us

Publicity photo via Bandcamp

Having acquired an abundance of experience and wisdom through their 30-year existence, post-hardcore legends Converge return with their ninth album in The Dusk in Us, crafting a record that balances between youthful angst and calmed maturity.

The Dusk in Us

Epitaph / Deathwish

3 Nov 2017

Listening to Converge's latest album The Dusk in Us, it is difficult to fathom that for a band that has been active for nearly 30 years they are still able to produce work that is so compelling and relevant to today's scene. Since the mid-'90s Converge has been a prominent act in the experimental extreme hardcore scene, producing excellent albums in Halo in a Haystack, Petitioning the Empty Sky and When Forever Comes Crashing. Always forward thinking and able to evolve in regards to their style and sound, Converge released one of the pivotal records of extreme music in Jane Doe, setting the bar for post-hardcore works.

Still, the band does not rest on its laurels, and they continued to explore different aspects of their identity with the underrated You Fail Me, before driving with more urgency in No Heroes and Axe to Fall. However, the second true peak of Converge's career came in 2012 with All We Love We Leave Behind with the band able of finding a fine balance between the aggressive hardcore aesthetic and compositional complexity and depth.

The Dusk in Us arrives five years after All We Love We Leave Behind and it feels like the natural continuation of Converge's vision. Still kicking and screaming as opening track "A Single Tear" displays, the band appears not to have missed a beat in this five-year gap, producing some devastating breakdowns in the midst of the lightning fast drumming and sharp guitar riffs. The primal and chaotic aesthetic is still vibrant, rooted in the hardcore heritage as Converge explores these short bursts of anger and anguish in the likes of "Eye of the Quarrel", "Broken by Light" and "Cannibals". All clocking under two and a half minutes, these tracks bring forth the most devastating and extreme manifestation of the band, as Bannon screeching vocals cut through the thick rhythm section of Newton and Koller.

Despite the indulgence with the extreme edge of the hardcore sound, Converge was never a band to myopically remain focused on just one sound. The tempo drops down and the post-metal, sludge-oid elements come to the surface in the heavy "Under Duress", while closing track "Reptilian" features a more slithering quality that goes alongside the otherwise towering presentation. The full extent of experimentalism is found in "Murk & Marrow" as the band lets go of solid structure, and explore the potency of blackened hardcore, the loose quality of improvisational progression, always featuring its trademark raw energy.

The key in Converge's sound, however, and that has been true since the early days, is the band's ability to explore the melodic tendencies without going all mushy, a trap that a lot of other extreme hardcore bands find themselves in. The lead work does not feel pushed, with the harmonies appearing naturally in The Dusk in Us, as the mid part of the otherwise in-your-face and punishing "A Single Tear" suggests. The track that completely encompasses the band's essence is no other than the seven-minute long title track, which evolves into a terrifying and beautiful opus. Lyricism meets with the detached vocal delivery of Bannon, creating a highly moving moment where Ballou's distorted guitar arrives in emotive waves.

Converge has not been going so much through a process of transformation as one of maturing. Still angry and rebellious as in their early releases, they also display a much wiser and patient perspective that only years of experience can bring. As Bannon's delivery in "Trigger" suggests "the string of pain ripens with age", Converge has made use of every experience to become what they stand for today and what is their philosophy in today's geopolitical climate. Honoring Vasili Arkhipov, the only Soviet officer who casted a vote against firing nuclear weapons from a submarine in the Cuban missile crisis, the track not only explores the disdain towards the current political status quo ("Fresh-faced oligarch we have grown far apart"), but it also offers a message of patience and planning rather than rage and outbreak ("You see the patience is a test, it separates boys from men").

What remains, in the end, is something surprisingly optimistic that Converge brings with The Dusk in Us, which is a stunning message for our times. Instead of simply producing a militant message, the band suggests taking a look at the importance of evaluating what one has, as the title track suggests, "What does the future hold, if we're running low on health and hope?" It is sometimes expected that creative individuals, no matter if we are talking about musicians, directors, producers or artists, lose their way through the years, becoming a shadow of their previous selves. Converge does not accept that notion, and in "Thousand of Miles Between Us" deliver the best message for carrying on through any struggle, "My shattered smile that life provides/ Stand up straight take it on the chin / Pick up my teeth and start again". They still carry on through the shrapnel, and it does not seem like they have any intention of stopping, and that is the wisdom they are freely sharing with anyone that cares to listen.





Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump Whitehouse -- and then drags it all to Hell.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

OK Go's Emotional New Ballad, "All Together Now", Inspired by Singer's Bout with COVID-19

Damian Kulash, lead singer for OK Go discusses his recent bout with COVID-19, how it impacted his family, and the band's latest pop delight, "All Together Now", as part of our Love in the Time of Coronavirus series.


The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.


Siren Songs' Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels Debut As a Folk Duo (album stream + interview)

Best friends and longtime musical collaborators Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels team up as Siren Songs for the uplifting folk of their eponymous LP.


Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.


Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.


Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.


Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.


Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.


The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.


ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.


Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.