Classic Grand, Glasgow, Fri 6 Jul
While metal is enjoying something of a renaissance as Mastodon and Tool’s esoteric leanings catch the mainstream’s attention, there’s yet to be a group to prove that hardcore is a bona fide art form. A group to attest hardcore is more than power chords and basement shows.
Step forward Converge. A band for whom ‘groundbreaking’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. Over a decade and a half the Boston quartet have become the flag bearers for hardcore as art. Here is a group, like spiritual pals Neurosis, whose desire to innovate is as much to do with experimentation as it is with confirming their very essence.
When 2001’s modern-day classic Jane Doe - a harrowing album that dealt with the collapse of vocalist Jacob Bannon’s five-year relationship - made them underground champions, they shrugged off expectations with 2004’s You Fail Me, an album that jettisoned the blistering metal of its predecessor in favour of QOTSA-style grooves, apocalyptic folk and noise rock.
Current album, No Heroes combines the two, as go-for-the-jugular rage meets a complex sonic whole. Best epitomised by the track, ‘Grim Heart/Black Rose’, which features a guest vocal from Jonah Jenkins of Only Living Witness: a slow, neo-blues riff grows into a doom metal ballad, culminating in the most almighty finale nine minutes later as the group wig-out in a stomping emotional catharsis. Sure, it’s emotional hardcore but it’s a world away from My Chemical Romance.
All of which confirms their status alongside kindred spirits Neurosis, Godflesh and Shellac: innovators that have come to symbolise a genre while forever re-defining it. In other words, true artists.