Converge don't ascribe to the old punk axiom "kill your idols" — they just think you should maim them a bit. The Boston band's upcoming album No Heroes is a harsh declaration of individuality that stems in part from being called pioneers of a wave of post-hardcore and metalcore outfits.
"Any time we see our name associated with a band as a selling point, we bum out," singer Jacob Bannon said, shortly after Converge finished touring as part of this year's Sounds of the Underground tour. "You should make your own way. Do something interesting. Have your actual art speak for itself."
Converge's music doesn't just speak for itself — it roars like a 6 a.m. wakeup call from a jackhammer. Other bands may be as loud or discordant, but few are as gloriously unhinged. The group's No Heroes, which comes out October 24, is more straightforward than 2004's You Fail Me, but it's also heavier. Whether trading off between lumbering riffs and punishing blast beats ("Heartache"), combining tumbling rhythms with Fugazi-style screams ("Trophy Scars") or dragging melancholy textures and melodic vocals through a scalding sea of tar ("Grim Heart/ Black Rose"), Converge are consistently more innovative and unsettling than most of their contemporaries.
"There are so many bands that are so loud but say absolutely nothing," Bannon said. "When I was a kid and I skated every day, when you saw someone like that, you called them a poser. They walk the walk but don't talk to talk, and I see so much of that in today's music scene. It's really discouraging because I'm a music lover and a listener."
One reason No Heroes is so crushing and urgent, Bannon says, is because the band didn't over-think things in the studio. Sure, over the past year, the band was meticulous about writing the new songs, but when it was time to record, many of the tunes were tracked in their entirety in just one or two takes.
"We really don't like putting too many things together on a computer or a tape machine if we don't have to," Bannon said. "We're all about the live, organic feel and there's an amazing energy that comes forth when you record like that."
Another way Converge kept No Heroes undiluted was by keeping everything in the family. Instead of hiring a producer, they put their faith in guitarist Kurt Ballou, who works as a professional producer and engineer when he's not with Converge.
"We've always practiced in his studio, but now we recorded there as well," Bannon said. "We just figured if lots of other bands can come to him for guidance, then we should trust him as well. And it worked out great. There was no pressure and no deadlines. We just did it all ourselves."
Despite their challenging sound, Converge — who always seem to be on the road — have cultivated a loyal following over the years. And while their music probably won't bring them the kind of success enjoyed by the dozens of bands they've inspired, Bannon says that, as long as they can keep their audiences happy, that's perfectly fine with them.
"We know we're not easy to digest," Bannon said. "We're a band that you need to spend time with to really understand what we are. Without that, we're a big barrage of noise. And as long as some people know there's a little bit more to us than that, we'll keep doing what we're doing."
Converge will be on tour with Mastodon and the Bronx this fall, starting September 6 in Baltimore, with dates scheduled through September 30 in San Diego.
The rest of the week's metal news:
Unearth, Bleeding Through, Terror and Through the Eyes of the Dead will hit the road together in September for the Sanctity of Brothers tour. The trek will kick off in Cleveland on September 7, with dates scheduled through September 30 in Worcester, Massachusetts. ... Long-running metallers Machine Head will head into Oakland, California's Sharkbite Studios on Monday to begin recording their sixth studio LP, The Blackening. The album is being primed for an early 2007 release. Frontman and guitarist Robert Flynn will produce the effort, which will feature "Clenching the Fists of Dissent," "Aesthetics of Hate," "Halo," "The Beautiful Mourning," "Now I Lay Thee Down," "Slanderous Love" and "A Farewell to Arms." "Words can't really describe how excited we are to get into the studio and record this record," drummer Dave McClain said in a statement issue by the band's label, Roadrunner Records. "The shows that we just played on the Sounds of the Underground tour were as amazing as we'd hoped they'd be, [and] the raw energy and excitement level of our fans right now is just incredible. We're fired up." ... Shadows Fall will commence pre-production for their yet-untitled major-label debut next week, with plans to begin recording the CD in Los Angeles next month, according to an online update from drummer Jason Bittner. "That means the new record will definitely make it on the shelves by early 2007," he wrote on the band's site. ...
Ex-Vision of Disorder and current Bloodsimple frontman Tim Williams has also posted an update on his band. "We've been hitting the studio daily," he wrote. "Last week was actually really productive. We cranked out three more songs and that brings the total to 14 new songs. Tales of heartache, pain and loss — some good old-fashioned hatecore to the extreme. We are gonna have you spitting out your own teeth in no time." The band is once again working with producer Machine (Bloodsimple's Cruel World, Lamb of God) on the disc. Look for the album early next year. ... Defunct melodic-death-metal pioneers At the Gates' 1995 LP Slaughter of the Soul will be reissued September 19 as a DualDisc CD/DVD. Look for it to include a making-of documentary along with a video for the track "Blinded by Fear." ... Cradle of Filth are planning to hit the road in the new year in support of their upcoming album Thornography, which is due in stores October 17. Official tour dates and information regarding the trek's opening acts will be revealed in the next few months, according to a spokesperson for the band. ... Dark Tranquility are in the throes of writing new material for the next LP and have demoed between 10 and 11 tracks thus far. The effort will be produced by Tue Madsen (Panzerchrist, Mnemic) and will feature "Blind at Heart," "The Lesser Faith" and "Insignificu--." ...
On Tuesday, Celtic Frost wrapped shooting on the video for "A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh," which should be set for air next month. ... With DevilDriver unable to make Venom's rescheduled tour dates, New Orleans black-metallers Goatwhore have stepped up to take their place. Dates are scheduled from Thursday in Tempe, Arizona, through September 8 in Philadelphia. In related news, Goatwhore shot a video in New York earlier this month for the track "Alchemy" with director David Brodsky (Strapping Young Lad, the Red Chord); the song appears on the band's forthcoming disc, A Haunting Curse, which hits stores September 5. The album will feature a dozen tracks, including "Bloodletting Upon the Cloven Hoof," "My Eyes Are the Spears of Chaos" and "Silenced Marked by the Breaking of Bone." The 'Whore will tour with Celtic Frost this fall, starting in San Francisco on October 3. ... German power-metal titans Grave Digger have begun work on their next album, Liberty or Death. The album's set for a January 12 release. ...
Canadian post-grindcore extremists the End are also in the studio, beginning work on their next full-length. Says frontman Aaron Wolff: "There was a very conscious effort to create the album that people won't be able to predict and won't get tired of. We truly feel that there is something in this record for anyone, as long as they are willing to let themselves forget about everything around them and focus on where the sound takes them. We are extremely happy with the progress we have made thus far." Look for the yet-untitled outing early next year. ... Austrian extreme-death band Belphegor have lost drummer Nefastus, although he'll be featured on the band's upcoming album Pestapokalypse VI, set to hit stores October 31. With Nefastus gone, the rest of the band's in need of a replacement. Interested? Visit the group's Web site, Belphegor.at, for all the pertinent details. ... The lineup for next spring's Maryland Deathfest V is starting to take shape. The annual metal convention, set for May 26 and 27 in Baltimore, will feature Brutal Truth, Cripple Bastards, Origin, Nunwhore Commando 666, Exhale and Putrescence.