(HEAVY FRIENDS is a segment where Robby geeks out on the latest and greatest in new heavy music. This time, we have a doozy...)
All We Love We Leave Behind jumps right out of the gate with "Aimless Arrow" which has the sheer unstoppable force that is familiar to longtime listeners of Converge, as well as the complex guitar patterns of Kurt Ballou. But where this track brings a bit of a surprise is in frontman Jacob Bannon's vocals, which vary in style but more often than not are performed in a screamed style (a very unique one at that). On this opening track you can say Bannon sings cleanly, but without a clear melody and in such an anguished style it couldn't be a conventionally accessible vocal by any means. This vocal performance adds great, devastating humanity to the track, and that's the first show of a great theme of this record: humanity.
"Sadness Comes Home" begins in such a style that if it had a fuzzier, beefier guitar tone it might have passed for a sludge metal track. But it ain't long until Converge's hardcore punk ferocity bursts through the gate, and Kurt's guitar work is especially notable here. "Sparrow's Fall" is one of the most unrelenting tracks on the album, and it brings the band to such a raw, primal state the hardcore nuts won't be able to get over it.
After some very overwhelming numbers, we find the first real change of speed and mood; while Converge are known for their faster, hardcore punk style music, they really know how to make slow burners, with tracks like "Jane Doe", "Plagues", "You Fail Me", and "Worms Will Feed" to show for it. "A Glacial Pace" has a sense of doom all around it; the busy drumming in the beginning and whispered vocals indicate something to come, and as the track does get going you can just feel Jacob Bannon's continued anguish in his vocals. When the song builds up to a destructive, monstrous climax, if the hair on the back of your neck isn't raised, it means the song has annihilated you first.
The height of intensity on this album has to come between the tracks "Coral Blue" and the following "Shame in the Way". The former is likely the doomiest track on the whole album, with a sludgy riff starting it off followed by some more whispered vocals from Bannon. It's just impeccable how well this band can build tension and be, well, intense, whether they're being fast or slow. At the track's quietest moment, at 2 and a half minutes, Ballou just plays a guitar interlude, and it finds its own way to be suspenseful and intense. The buildup afterward is just too good for words. The way the track transitions into the next, "Shame in the Way", is just amazing; the rising drums followed by the pummeling guitar chords, I just can't get enough of it.
I've gone through what alot of this album has to offer, and basically if you've loved the album up to this point, you're gonna love the rest of it. A problem some might have with this record is that, in some ways, Converge really hasn't changed up their formula too much. This record doesn't have near the level of experimentation and left hooks that Axe to Fall has, and maybe some would call this record "Converge as usual", besides a couple of the slower tunes. If that opinion is yours, then that's fine, and understandable; but to me the way Converge writes and performs their material makes it so fresh and creative in my mind that I don't care if they've been down this road before. From where I'm standing, no matter how long they've been kicking Converge still put their own stamp on this hardcore style and show all the imitators who's boss. Even through this record's miniscule flaws, that's damn well good enough for me.
Score: strong 8/light 9
(Robby clearly hates oatmeal. Find out more on Twitter @ClydeNut. Thanks for reading!