Jane Doe


Equal Vision, 2001


REVIEW BY: Benny Balneg


Few bands tread the music scene on a tightrope like Converge.

These guys, composed of Jacob Bannon on vocals, Kurt Ballou on guitars, Nate Newton on bass and Ben Koller on drums, have upped the ante with Jane Doe, a 12-track masterwork of artful aggression. However, the band continues to define music beyond recognition. Simply put, their sonic collage of post-punk, post-hardcore, post-metal and post-schizophrenia splattered-on sound is in a league of its own.

The most glaring thing about Jane Doe is the violence contained in each of the songs. It is what people would normally refer to as “energy,” a word that has been the cliche for bands when asked what makes their music different from any other. With Converge, however, the abrasive sound and unparalleled live show translates into this pressed recording like energy stripped of its gloss, revealing an intense fascination to destroy everything in its path and leave a bloody mess on the scene.

Better yet, imagine a 600-grit sanding block vigorously scraping the skin and flesh of your face, blood lubricating the block until it shreds all of your features away, rendering you a bloody, faceless mess. Yes, it's that visceral. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Of course, much of this violence is credited to the compelling montage of indecipherable screams, grinding rhythm section, odd time signatures and hostile production value. Openers “Concubine” and “Fault And Fracture,” for all of their beauty distorted by their bent song structures, lay the foundation for “Distance And Meaning,” an antagonistic and anarchistic number that lays atonal riffs and explosive dynamics that sublimates a tamed, mild-manned pet into a primal, uncompromising beast.

Bannon, despite his persistent use of harsh screams, becomes a distinct part of the band’s sound. Only few understand the power that such a vocal style offers to a band playing extreme music, but none are able to deliver their vocals with so much passion and intensity like Bannon. Listening to his tormented delivery in  the album’s crowning punk gem “Homewrecker” would finally shed light to those who don't understand. Still, it may be baffling how such beautiful yet harrowing lovelorn lyrics (“I have bled and I have given / the longest of rivers and the longest of ropes / And you're not grasping and my light is sinking on the horizon”) are not sung in a more comprehensible manner. This only proves that Converge is the most disturbing band to ever sing about relationships.

This is not to say that Bannon should hog the limelight of the album’s success. What the band was also able to do in this release is to write progressive numbers necessary to develop and upgrade their attack, as the sprawling title track would suggest. Also, “Heaven In Her Arms” boasts their heaviest outro riff, or any riff for that matter, since “The Saddest Day” off Petitioning The Empty Sky. Aside from these subtler nuances, the band's high-octane performances are able to maintain a standard of blistering, mind-numbing wall of noise.

This is the perfect soundtrack for those Japanese rooms in which you enter and get to break stuff. You know the drill -- smash that antique vase on the wall, jump naked into a panel of glass windows and slit your gut to feel something else aside from this unspoken frustration since your girlfriend left you for another man.

I am telling you, Jane Doe is a bitch of a listen.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2007 Benny Balneg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Equal Vision, and is used for informational purposes only.