|Origin||Salem, Massachusetts, United States|
Converge is an American metalcore band from Salem, Massachusetts. Formed in 1990, the group is composed of vocalist Jacob Bannon, guitarist Kurt Ballou, bassist Nate Newton and drummer Ben Koller. Their style blends hardcore punk with heavy metal, and they are considered pioneers of both metalcore and its subgenre mathcore. According to AllMusic, Converge are "regarded as one of the most original and innovative bands to emerge from the punk underground".
Converge have enjoyed a relatively high level of recognition. Their popularity began to rise with the release of breakthrough album, Jane Doe, which was number 1 on Sputnikmusic's "Top 100 Albums of the Decade". During the recording of Jane Doe, longtime member Aaron Dalbec was asked to leave the group. This reduced Converge to a four-piece line up, which has been intact to the present day. Converge's records have gradually become more elaborate and expensive to produce. This progression began with their move from a small independent label (Equal Vision Records) to a considerably larger one (Epitaph Records). Special releases have traditionally been handled by Bannon's record label, Deathwish Inc.
- 1 History
- 2 Musical style
- 3 GodCity Studio
- 4 Collaborations
- 5 Other projects
- 6 Members
- 7 Discography
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early years and 1990s albums (1990–99)
Converge was formed in the winter of 1990 by vocalist Jacob Bannon and guitarist Kurt Ballou, they were later joined by bassist Jeff Feinburg, and drummer Damon Bellorado. They started by playing covers of hardcore punk, punk rock and heavy metal songs. The band soon graduated to playing live performances in 1991, after recording some demos on a 4-track recorder.
In 1994, Converge released their debut album Halo in a Haystack. The album was released through Earthmaker Records, only as a vinyl record. Only a 1000 copies of this record were made and the album has not been reprinted since. The record was funded by Bannon through money he saved up from working at a nursing home. Ballou later described the album Halo in a Haystack as "a bunch of hardcore kids playing leftover Slayer riffs."
In 1995, Converge released a compilation album titled Caring and Killing. The album featured tracks form the band's earlier work from the years 1991 to 1994. The album was released as a European exclusive through Lost & Found Records. However, Converge became dissatisfied with the way the label was handling the release and over charging fans for their hard to find older songs. The album was re-released through Hydra Head Records on November 17, 1997 in America to "make an overpriced release obsolete."
In 1996, Converge released a four song EP titled Petitioning the Empty Sky. The EP was released through Ferret Music, it was one of the earliest releases through the at the time newly formed label. Later that same year the record was released again with four new songs added to it, three of which were recorded in February 1996. Two years later, the album was reissued through Converge's new label Equal Vision Records on January 20, 1998, this version contained the previous eight tracks as well as three newly added live tracks ("For You," "Homesong," and "Antithesis") which were recorded during a radio broadcast. Due to the addition of the new tracks fans and sources consider this to be Converge's second studio album, while the band band considers this a compilation album because the album is a collection of songs recorded at different times.
On December 22, 1997, recording for the band's third studio album When Forever Comes Crashing began and finished on January 3, 1998 at GodCity Studio. The album was produced by Steve Austin with input form Converge. On April 14, 1998, the album was released. The album was the first and last to feature bassist Stephen Brodsky (of Cave In) as an official member of the band.
On November 23, 1999, Converge released a split album with Agoraphobic Nosebleed titled The Poacher Diaries, though Relapse Records. This was the first release to have Nate Newton, replacing former bassist Stephen Brodsky.
Ben Koller joined Converge in late 1999, replacing former drummer John DiGiorgio. Familiar with his work in previous bands, Kurt Ballou selected Koller to temporarily fill-in while Converge searched for a more permanent replacement for the recently departed Damon Bellorado. After working well with the band during some local shows in Boston, Converge made him an official member.
Jane Doe (2000–03)
In mid-2000, Converge self-released a three track record titled Jane Doe Demos. The CDs were released at Converge's 2000 tour and were limited to 100 copies. The CDs contain at the time unreleased demo versions of "Bitter & Then Some", "Thaw" and a cover of "Whatever I do" (originally by Negative Approach), however the cover of "Whatever I do" is not featured on the album Jane Doe. The track "Thaw" was also released on Converge's and Hellchild's split album Deeper the Wound on April 23, 2001.
Recording for the band's fourth studio album Jane Doe was mostly done at Q Division, next door to James Taylor's recording session, recordings for the album also took place at GodCity Studio and Fort Apache, the album was also mixed at both these locations. The album was recorded and mixed entirely in the analog domain. The album was released on September 4, 2001. The album was met with immediate critical acclaim, with critics praising its poetic lyrics, dynamic range, ferocity and production. The album was also a commercial success in comparison to Converge's previous outings, and both the band and the album have developed a cult following since its release. The cover art has become an icon of Converge, the artwork was designed by vocalist Jacob Bannon. It is the band's first album to feature Nate Newton and Ben Koller, and the last to feature Aaron Dalbec, who was asked to leave the band due to his devotion to his at the time side-project Bane. In 2002, a music video for the track/tracks "Concubine/Fault and Fracture" was released, this was Converge's first music video, it was directed by Zach Merck.
On January 28, 2003, Converge released their second compilation album titled Unloved and Weeded Out. The album was originally released as a three track EP in 1995. The 2003 album version contains all three tracks from the 1995 EP but in total features 14 tracks, some of which were previously released rarities while others were previously unreleased.
On February 25, 2003, Converge released their first official DVD release The Long Road Home. The DVD is modeled after band home videos such as Metallica's Cliff Em' All release. Deathwish describes the DVD as a two disc collection that is as energetic and exciting as the moments the release captures. The DVD also comes with a bonus disk that included three full live sets from the band.
You Fail Me (2004–05)
In early 2004, the band announced that they have signed to Epitaph Records having previously being signed to Equal Vision Records. When asked about the switch to Epitaph Jacob Bannon stated “We are confident as artists and genuinely happy about the move. We are part of a diverse, quality roster with Epitaph, rich in both history and integrity. We've struggled for years looking for a supportive label to call home and after a decade we have found it.”
Converge began writing You Fail Me after they recorded Jane Doe, they wrote on the road during sound checks of shows. In an interview with Rocksound Bannon was asked how the album sounded he stated "It's darker, heavier, and harder then Jane Doe. At the same time the music is non-linear and very un-metal. There is a diverse approach to the instrumentation on the album as well. Giving us a larger musical dynamic than we've had before". Recording for the album was started in March and April 2004, mainly at Ballou's GodCity Studio, however additional recording took place at The Magpie Cage and Witch Doctor Studios. The album was mixed by Matt Ellard and Converge's own Kurt Ballou. The album was released on September 20, 2004; it is the band's first release on Epitaph Records. The record was also the band's first to chart commercially, reaching number 171 on the Billboard 200.
Converge started touring in support of the album on September 24, 2004, and ended on October 31, 2004. The tour was titled "You Fail Me Tour 2K4". On this tour Converge sold copies of Supermachiner's album Rise of the Great Machine, this release was limited to 50 copies.
In 2005, Epitaph Records reissued Petitioning the Empty Sky and When Forever Comes Crashing; these reissues gave the album's one new bonus track each, Petitioning the Empty Sky received an alternate version of the song "Love As Arson" and When Forever Comes Crashing received a demo version of the song "Bitter and Then Some". These reissues also came with new album artwork by Aaron Turner.
No Heroes (2006–08)
In early July, 2006, Converge's official website announced the title of their upcoming album (No Heroes), as well as the meaning behind it;
|“||These days, cowards outnumber the heroes, and the begging souls outweigh the calloused hands of the hardest of workers. Both in life and in art, the lack of passion is sickening, and the lust for complacency is poisonous. This album is the artistic antithesis of that sinking world; a thorn in the side of their beast. It's for those who move mountains one day at a time. It's for those who truly understand sacrifice. In our world of enemies, we will walk alone...||”|
No Heroes was the first Converge album to be self-produced by Kurt Ballou with no input from other producers, at his own GodCity Studio. On October 24, 2006, Converge released their sixth studio album No Heroes. On December 5, 2006 a music video was released for the title track of the album, the video was directed by Ryan Zunkley.
Converge began a US tour in support of the album on November 9, 2006 with Some Girls, Modern Life Is War, Blacklisted, Kylesa and Gospel. After the US tour the band wanted focused on worldwide touring for the year after, citing places like Europe, Japan and Australia as targets.
On July 25, 2006, Deathwish reissued Petitioning the Empty Sky and When Forever Comes Crashing again, but this time as vinyl box set collection dubbed Petitioning Forever, the box set added no new tracks to either album, unlike previous reissues of the albums.
Axe to Fall (2009–11)
In November 2008, Converge began writing Axe to Fall. Though most songs originated from a guitar or bass riff from Kurt Ballou or Nate Newton, all members had equal input on the writing process, with each member proposing different songs. Following a short tour in March 2009 with Ceremony, Coliseum, Pulling Teeth, Rise and Fall, Converge entered the studio to begin recording in May 2009. During this short tour, the band debuted a few new songs live, and footage could be seen online. The album was self-produced by Converge's guitar player, Kurt Ballou, in his own GodCity Studio. Though writing did not officially begin until November 2008, work on some songs from Axe to Fall began four to five years earlier. In 2004, Converge collaborated with Cave In and recorded some songs together. The material from these recording sessions, dubbed the "Verge In" sessions, was never released and the project later dissolved. Converge took the parts they contributed to the project to create the foundation for what would become "Cruel Bloom" and "Wretched World". In August 2009, two months prior to the release of Axe to Fall, Converge made the opening track "Dark Horse" available for streaming and as a free download. The song was noted for being one of the few tracks lacking guest musicians, and was also met with a very positive reaction from reviewers. The title track, "Axe to Fall," was also made available for free download in September 2009. The entire album was available for streaming one week before the official release date on Converge's MySpace page. On October 14, 2009 a music video was released for the title track of the album, the music video was directed by Craig Murray, the video features stop motion animation influenced by horror films. On October 20, 2009, Converge released their seventh studio album Axe to Fall. On November 7, the "Axe to Fall" video debuted on MTV2's heavy metal music program, Headbangers Ball.
Converge's first tour in support of Axe to Fall was the Metalocalypse tour in late 2009 sponsored by Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Alongside High on Fire, Converge held an opening slot for co-headliners Mastodon and Dethklok. Converge's first headlining tour in support of the album took place starting in April 2010, with Coalesce, Harvey Milk, Gaza, Lewd Acts and Black Breath. Converge began the European part of their world tour in July 2010 with Kylesa, Gaza and Kvelertak. In July 2010 the band released a limited-edition 7-inch vinyl single, On My Shield. The single was released in three different colors, with each variety limited to 1,000 copies. One version was sold during Converge's 2010 European tours, one was sold through the band's Epitaph webstore and the final version was distributed to various vinyl retailers.
All We Love We Leave Behind and You Fail Me Redux (2012–present)
On January 1, 2012, Converge announced that they had completed writing for their eighth studio album, titled All We Love We Leave Behind. The following day, Kurt Ballou announced plans via his Facebook page to begin recording with the band in January 2012. On August 28, 2012, the band released a music video for the track "Aimless Arrow" off their upcoming album. On October 3, 2012 the album was available to stream in its entirety on YouTube, a week before it's official release. The album was released on October 9, 2012 to widespread praise, currently holding an aggregate score of 88 on Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim." On April 17, 2014, another music video was released for the album, "Precipice / All We Love We Leave Behind". With the release of the video for "Precipice / All We Love We Leave Behind", All We Love We Leave Behind became the first Converge album to have more than one music video.
The band made an appearance at Los Angeles’ FYF Fest on September 1, 2012. Then after a short break the band began touring for support of the album on October 12, 2012, the band toured the US with Torche, Kvelertak, Nails and Whips/Chains.
On October 15, 2015, Deathwish's YouTube channel released a trailer for Converge's upcoming Blu-Ray set, titled Thousands of Miles Between Us. Almost over a month after the release of the trailer, on November 27, 2015, the Blu-Ray set Thousands of Miles Between Us was released. The set was described by Deathwish as the long-awaited sequel to their landmark 2003 DVD release The Long Road Home. The footage ranges from a full 20 song Converge set to over 15 hours of live, rare, and previously unseen footage, which is claimed to span over a decade in the life of Converge.
On April 29, 2016, Converge announced plans to reissue the album You Fail Me (12 years after the original release), it was put up for per-order the same day. On May 2, 2016, the title track (from the upcoming version of the album) was made available to stream on SoundCloud. On June 17, 2016, Converge reissued the album You Fail Me under the name You Fail Me Redux through Epitaph/Deathwish. Guitarist Kurt Ballou remixed the album and Alan Douches remaster it. The album was also repackaged by vocalist/artist Jacob Bannon. Ballou explained in an interview with Noisey that after he recorded and mixed the album No Heroes (which was the first full length Converge album Ballou recorded and mixed) he wanted to go back and remix You Fail Me, because he and the rest of the band were "never quite content with the original mix".
Converge's style is rooted in both hardcore punk and heavy metal. It has been described as metalcore and mathcore, or simply as hardcore. They are considered one of the earliest and most influential metalcore bands. Their 2001 album Jane Doe, which has become their most acclaimed work, introduced an experimental approach and an emphasis on rhythmical complexity, which are the defining features of mathcore. However, vocalist Jacob Bannon stated: "I really don't know what mathcore is. Converge is an aggressive band. We have elements of hardcore, punk, and metal for sure. But I think trying to define our efforts and other bands with a generic subgenre name is counter productive. We all have something unique to offer and should be celebrated for those qualities rather than having them generalized for easy consumption."
Some of Converge's songs feature parts that lack their typical fast tempos and overall aggression; such songs include "Jane Doe", "Hell to Pay", "You Fail Me", "In Her Shadow", "Grim Heart/Black Rose", "Cruel Bloom", "Ten Cents", and "Wretched World".
Converge's influences range from hardcore bands such as Black Flag and Born Against; metal bands such as Black Sabbath, Godflesh, Slayer, Entombed, Vio-lence, and Death Angel; and other metalcore bands such as Starkweather and Rorschach. Jacob Bannon has also discussed an appreciation for grindcore on Earache Records; post-hardcore on Dischord Records; crossover thrash bands such as the Accüsed and Suicidal Tendencies; and post-punk bands such as Depeche Mode and the Cure (both of whom Converge have covered).
In the late 1990s, Kurt Ballou was working as a biomedical engineer when his then project got cancelled. Instead of selecting a different position within the same company that he had worked with for six years, Ballou opted to receive a severance package which he used to build his own recording studio. Established in 1998, GodCity Studio is located in Ballou's home state of Massachusetts. One of the earliest recordings from the studio was Cave In's Until Your Heart Stops.
Ballou has produced and co-produced several Converge albums at GodCity Studios including 1998's When Forever Comes Crashing, 2001's Jane Doe, 2004's You Fail Me, 2006's No Heroes, 2009's Axe to Fall, 2012's All We Love We Leave Behind and the 2005 remasters of Petitioning the Empty Sky and When Forever Comes Crashing. He has also produced a number of independent metal and hardcore bands, including Genghis Tron's Board Up the House, Torche's Meanderthal and Disfear's Live the Storm.
The "Verge-In" sessions
After touring together in 2004, every member of Cave In and Converge entered Kurt Ballou's GodCity studio to lay in the foundation for what was intended to become a full-length collaborative album between the two bands. Tentatively dubbed the "Verge-In" sessions (an amalgamation of both band's names), the project was described as sounding "like this freaky mix of Ride the Lightning-era Metallica meets Mars Volta meets the Allman Brothers." Due to both groups growing busier with their primary bands while also citing creative differences and there being "too many cooks in the kitchen," the project eventually fizzled out. Stephen Brodsky described the sessions as being "bigger project than anyone had anticipated taking on" and elaborated: "The idea was to put out some sort of release at some point. But as with anything that has too many cooks in the kitchen, the project got delayed, and certain people felt one way or another about the pieces we came up with, and in the end, there was a very small portion of material that everyone could agree on."
Tracks from the abandoned Verge-In sessions were reworked and transformed years later into the Converge songs "Plagues" from No Heroes and "Effigy," "Cruel Bloom" and "Wretched World" from Axe to Fall, the latter of which were heavily reworked by members of Genghis Tron. Jacob Bannon said he believes there are only two unused and half-finished tracks from these sessions that could end up being reworked into new Cave In songs down the road. Brodsky said what became "Effigy" was some of the best material from the sessions and expressed interest in going back and finishing the remaining unreleased tracks at some point. The positive collaborative experience of these sessions was partly responsible for the formation of Ben Koller's and Stephen Brodsky's band Mutoid Man in 2013.
In April 2016, all four members of Converge in addition to special guests Stephen Brodsky (Cave In, Mutoid Man), Steve Von Till (Neurosis), Chelsea Wolfe and Ben Chisholm (Chelsea Wolfe) collaborated under the name Blood Moon. Limited to four European performances, the collective performed "ambient/post-rock interpretations" of various tracks from Converge's entire discography, particularly songs of their "lesser-heard and slower work." In Kim Kelly of Noisey's review of Blood Moon's Roadburn Festival performance, she said: "I hadn't realized Converge's Jacob Bannon had such a powerful clean voice, or just how well it would mesh with Chelsea Wolfe's; I stood rooted to the spot for a good half hour if not more, totally sucked in by what was happening onstage. It was obvious that the musicians involved had put a lot of thought into what they were presenting up there." In Tom Hartley of NME's review of their London performance, he said: "As one of only four European cities visited by Converge on this tour, it felt truly fortunate to witness such a unique show and once again reaffirmed they are crushingly brilliant with whatever they choose to do."
In 1994, vocalist Jacob Bannon and Ryan Parker (Daltonic, Black Spot, The Jaded Salingers) began a ambient music project titled Supermachiner. After picking the project back up in 1998 recording started to begin and guitarist Kurt Ballou joined in on the project. Supermachiner's first album, Rise of the Great Machine was released in 2000 through the Undecided label. On March 16, 2009, Deathwish released Rust, a 30 track double CD that featured a remastered version of the Rise of the Great Machine along with b-sides of forgotten songs and additional audio experiments. After the release Rise of the Great Machine, Bannon continued to write music that was sonically different than Converge, which was later released as solo martial many years later. The solo material has been released under his own name and the alias Wear Your Wounds. From the years 2007 to 2011, Bannon participated in Irons, a musical collaboration, alongside Dwid Hellion (Integrity) and visual artist Stephen Kasner.
Guitarist, Kurt Ballou is also a prolific producer, recording and producing out of his own GodCity Studio. In 1996 Ballou played guitar in the punk band The Huguenots. On November 20, 2007, the band (who had long disbanded at this time) released an anthology of all the band's previous releases. This release was simply titled Discography. From the years 1996 to 1999, Ballou was a part of the rock band Kid Kilowatt, the band was short lived although an album (Guitar Method) was released years after the band broke up. The band's members included Stephen Brodsky of Cave In among others. In 1999, Ballou played guitar and provided vocals in Blue/Green Heart, a math rock trio whose members included Ben Koller who would later become the drummer for Converge. The band released one EP titled Self Esteem Through Modern Science in 2001.
In 1995, former guitarist Aaron Dalbec and former drummer Damon Bellorado created a hardcore punk side project called "Gateway" which was later renamed Bane. The band released 4 studio albums before disbanding in 2016.
From the years 1995 to 1999, bassist Nate Newton played in the hardcore punk band Jesuit with former Dillinger Escape Plan guitarist Brian Benoit. Jesuit announced their intent to reform for a few shows in 2011, and also release a collective anthology of all the band's previous releases, which had all gone out of print. This release was simply titled Discography and was released in 2011 through Magic Bullet Records. In 2000, Newton joined the sludge metal band Old Man Gloom as the bassist. In 2004, Newton formed the metal band Doomriders as the vocalist and guitarist. From the years 2013 to 2015, Newton played bass guitar for the metal band Cavalera Conspiracy.
Drummer Ben Koller, got his start in the punk and metal scene by playing drums for bands such as Forcefedglass. In late 2005, Koller briefly drummed for Cave In. Koller is also rumored to be a member of the hardcore punk supergroup United Nations. In 2007, Koller formed the psychedelic punk supergroup Acid Tiger. In 2009, Koller began drumming in the hardcore punk band All Pigs Must Die. In 2012, Koller and Stephen Brodsky formed the hard rock band Mutoid Man. On July 30, 2015, Koller officially joined the metal supergroup Killer Be Killed after being a temporary fill-in for the band's drummer Dave Elitch during their appearance at Soundwave Festival.
- Halo in a Haystack (1994)
- Petitioning the Empty Sky (1996)
- When Forever Comes Crashing (1998)
- Jane Doe (2001)
- You Fail Me (2004)
- No Heroes (2006)
- Axe to Fall (2009)
- All We Love We Leave Behind (2012)
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As far as thematic intent and sonic structures are concerned, the band continues to integrate a rich tapestry of hardcore punk, metal, and mathcore
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I learned to play guitar by listening to Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, and Metallica
- The groups listed in this sentence are taken from an interview with Jacob Bannon from Smother Magazine. . Access date: June 14, 2008.
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