It’s always amusing seeing NFL teams ramp up and sign all the big free agents after the season ends, the fanbase gets all lathered up, and then they do fuck all when the next season comes. Washington Football Team was legendary for that back when their team name was way more racist, and it was clear the formula of just getting a ton of big names together wasn’t a very good one.
That could have come to a head when Converge teamed up with myriad musicians including Chelsea Wolfe, Ben Chisholm, and Steve Brodsky (Cave In) on collaborative effort “Bloodmoon: I,” but they avoided any possible negative traps and instead put together one hell of a record that showcases what they all do best. It’s not that these forces are foreign to one another: Brodksy long has had ties to Converge, playing bass on 1998’s “When Forever Comes Crashing,” and this entire crew performed reworked Converge songs at 2016’s Roadburn. But pulling together to create fresh material is much different, and having everyone involved writing and contributing not just their own parts but others as well shows just how flexible everyone involved here truly is. Wolfe and Brodsky tend to share the largest portion of the vocals here, though Jacob Bannon’s unmistakable howl also lifts heavily, while everyone else—Converge is rounded out by guitarist Kurt Ballou, bassist Nate Newton, and drummer Ben Koller—mixes hardcore, metal, Western-style dreaming, noise, and post-rock gazing, often with all of that in the same song. It’s also a little weird that this is called a Converge record and not some collaborative name, but it’s likely easier from a marketing and recognition standpoint, so I get it.
“Blood Moon” opens the proceedings, slowly coming to life as the music clears its eyes to see the world more focused. Wolfe leads, but as the track gets rougher, Bannon emerges with his trademark yelp, and the track pushes and pulls from light to dark. Things get grislier, the intensity pours generously, and finally the structure burns down, left in a pile of soot. “Viscera of Men” splits off and feels more like a Converge track, leaving you in the dust. As the mood settles, Wolfe pushes in and lends her otherworldly voice, group vocals chant behind her, and the emotional pall thickens and becomes frosty, ending frozen in a cube. “Coil” is awash in acoustics and a gentler tone with Wolfe and Brodsky sharing vocals. “It’s like a serpent coiled inside of me,” they both call as the storm thickens. Shrieks strike hard as the pace increases, and the track comes to a riveting finish. “Flower Moon” has keys dripping and slide guitar haunting with Brodsky taking lead. The track is sinewy and mysterious, slithering darkly as the emotion thickens, with the final moments devoured by static. “Tongues Playing Dead” starts with the bass trudging and shrieks playing off the zany guitar work that increases your blood pressure. “We go silent, so, so silent,” Brodsky warns as the playing goes for your guts, electrocuting with sharp riffs and ending with a jolt of power.
“Lord of Liars” starts with guitars jarring while Wolfe’s singing and Bannon’s gutting shrieks combine and hammer. Guitars tangle as disorienting speed has its way with you, stymying and sizzling, stomping with a Zeppelin-style grit. “Failure Forever” mixes gruff with elegant, giving a different vibe as Brodsky calls, “Constant reminders of failure last forever.” Isn’t that the truth? Shrieks land hard as the track remains a grim reminder of the things that weigh on our psyches before melting into the clouds. “Scorpion’s Sting” is prickly and steely, a perfect opening for Wolfe to come on and drive the dagger deeper. The track is slower and stormy, a fiery solo lights the sky, and sounds reverberate as the song has consumed fully the dusk horizon. “Daimon” starts with anxious breathing before Wolfe knifes the surface as acoustic snaps and power jolts coexist. “Your children will answer for your crimes,” Wolfe scolds coldly as the leads come in and add to the foundation. Wolfe and Brodsky combine forces, delivering horrific imagery as quiet playing tries to wipe away the torment. “Crimson Stone” delivers guitars blazing as Wolfe and Brodsky team up again, moving into slower, disheveling territory. Bannon’s shrieks rip at flesh over the singing, your heart gushes with power, and lush and effusive playing emerges and spreads over the landscape. “Blood Dawn” is the closer and basks in a Western vibe, the declining sun still streaking the sky. Wolfe leads as chant-like vocals lather, echoes make you question your grasp on reality, and calls of “blood moon” create seismic waves that work down your chest and into your guts.
Putting together so many heavy forces could have gone to hell in less capable hands, but what Converge, Chelsea Wolfe, Ben Chisholm, and Steve Brodsky, do with these songs leads to a late-year classic, something that’ll register well into 2022. Hearing this dream finally come to fruition is rewarding as hell as this album is a surprise from front to back on the first listen, with other layers revealed on later visits. While they all have plenty of business with their own projects, hopefully this is a venture that has legs, isn’t a one-off, and perhaps opens its gates to other powers on subsequent journeys.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/converge
And here: https://www.facebook.com/cchelseawwolfe
And here: https://www.facebook.com/CaveIn.Official
To buy the album, go here: https://kingsroadmerch.com/epitaph-records/
For more on the label, go here: https://www.epitaph.com/
And here: https://deathwishinc.com/