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Converge - Bloodmoon: I (Album Review)

Wednesday, 24 November 2021 Written by Emma Wilkes

Two decades ago, who could have expected something like this to come from Converge? Nobody who witnessed the landscape-reshaping release of 2001’s ‘Jane Doe’ would have predicted that the Massachusetts band would one day make sounds like those on ‘Bloodmoon: I’.

Despite being known for their relentless, experimental and gloriously messy hardcore, which plays fast and loose with rhythm and time signatures, Converge’s 10th studio album is radically experimental in a whole other sense. 

Five years on from combining with Chelsea Wolfe and Cave In’s Stephen Brodsky to reimagine songs from their back catalogue live they have brought this expanded lineup, also featuring Wolfe’s writing foil Ben Chisholm, together in the studio, challenging themselves to sound as grandiose as possible. The results are astounding.

The ambition on offer here is sky-high from the outset. Opening the record with an eight minute epic longer than any of the tracks that follow is bold enough on paper, but Bloodmoon wastes not a second of it, tiptoeing into the world before Jacob Bannon responds to Wolfe’s delicate melodies with a dramatic roar. 

Viscera of Men covers more ground in less time, opening with a flash of classic Converge hardcore freneticism before transforming into something haunting and stately. There’s a sense throughout the record, and on these tracks in particular, of two artists having a mutually beneficial conversation, bending the laws of music by making sounds that should clash appear utterly beautiful alongside one another.

‘Bloodmoon: I’ continually finds ways to surprise and intrigue across its 11 tracks. The creeping, symphonic one-two of Coil and Flower Moon is simultaneously dense and strangely accessible, while at the opposite end of the spectrum, Lord of Liars delivers on Kurt Ballou’s usual promise of satisfying, intricate riffs. 

Late album highlight Crimson Stone quivers with fragile emotion and remains continually captivating even as it strains to reach the seven minute mark. This is a near-flawless offering that sounds monumental without ever feeling pretentious or self-indulgent. Word of advice: don’t decide what your album of the year will be before you’ve heard ‘Bloodmoon: I’.

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