When your band’s discography includes genre- and era-defining albums like Petitioning the Empty Sky, When Forever Comes Crashing, and Jane Doe, I’d imagine that approaching the writing of a new album is a gut-wrenching experience. Lesser bands try to recapture the lightning in the bottle of their earlier glory, churning out record after record of derivative clones of their first successes but never quite recapturing the magic of the original. Converge though, are not a lesser band, and the trails they musically blaze on every album seem to take the band to even more towering heights of greatness. While countless others have tried to imitate them over the years, Converge have a chameleon-like way of reinventing themselves on each new album, each time bringing something that is both fresh, but distinctly their own. All We Love We Leave Behind is no exception. The blistering metallic hardcore fury that we’ve all come to expect from Converge is all over this album. Guitarist Kurt Ballou and bassist Nate Newton each demonstrate their virtuosity, with some of the most technical playing of anything in the Converge catalog. Having one of the best drummers in hardcore, Ben Koller, holding down the rhythms, and the end result is spastic, aggressive, and also really damn catchy. There are some great riffs on this record, sure to please hardcore and more metal aficionados alike. Vocalist Jacob Bannon has always been one of my favorite lyricists, and on tracks like “Aimless Arrow,” “Sadness Comes Home,” the title track, and the closer “Predatory Glow,” he’s written some of my favorite Converge lyrics. Bannon is known for having one of the most distinct, guttural, and abrasive voices in hardcore, with a howl more terrifying than the scariest banshee screams. On All We Love We Leave Behind he also demonstrates a very dynamic range, with spoken word and sung-spoken parts as in the opening track “Aimless Arrow.” This dynamism only serves to make his voice that much more impactful. After dozens upon dozens of spins, I can’t even begin to choose a favorite track on this album. 2012 has been one of the best years of music in recent memory, and All We Love We Leave Behind is quickly clawing its way to the top of my list of albums of the year. It is not only Converge’s finest record since Jane Doe, but is arguably the pinnacle of their career to date—a musical triumph not to be missed.
–Paul J. Comeau (Epitaph, [email protected])