After the four-year gap since their last studio album, Massachusetts hardcore/metalcore act Converge return with something quite different. A collaborative effort, Bloodmoon: I (Epitaph Records) sees the band joining forces with Chelsea Wolfe, Ben Chisholm plus Cave In singer/guitarist Stephen Brodsky, the seven individuals all contributing to something a little out of their usual comfort zones.
With the project starting life under the name of Blood Moon, the band (aided by Steve von Till of Neurosis) delivered a set of stone cold Converge classics (plus a cover of ‘Disintegration’ by The Cure) to an enraptured Roadburn Festival in 2016, the performance inspiring the seven core members to work together on original material the first chance they got.
Opening with the haunting title track, singer Jacob Bannon trades vocals with Wolfe, atmospheric piano keys giving way to short sharp bursts of distorted violence as the pair strike up an instant understanding with each other. ‘Viscera of Men’ unleashes a gnashing, punky outburst before slabs of thunderous doom rain their gloom down from above. Meanwhile, guitarist Kurt Ballou‘s gentle acoustics and the whispered, ethereal vocals of ‘Coil’ create a slow burn to something more powerful and emotionally resonant.
‘Flower Moon’ sounds like Alice in Chains partying with The Cure and Opeth while the more aggressive ‘Tongues Playing Dead’ boasts more than a couple of memorable hooks. The more upbeat ‘Lord of Liars’ features Wolfe and Bannon exchanging very different vocal styles, the duo clashing in the best possible way against a backdrop of schizophrenic riffs. The swirling, moody ‘Failure Forever’ leads into the slow, sultry swing of ‘Scorpion’s Sting’, Wolfe putting in one of her best performances on the record here while Ballou responds with an emotive solo as bassist Nate Newton plays his understated but integral part to perfection.
The baleful opening ‘Daimon’ soon develops into a sequence of angular riffs propelled by different but equally powerful vocal styles while ‘Crimson Stone’ bubbles with brooding melancholy and ‘Blood Dawn’ brings things to a beautifully languid and quietly restrained close.
Turbulent but serene, abrasive but polished, Bloodmoon: I never ceases to enthral and amaze. An harmonious cacophony of beautiful melody and jagged rhythms, ideas crash into each other one moment and complement each other unhurriedly the next. Whether it’s Ben Koller‘s drums, Ballou’s guitar work or Wolfe/Bannon’s varied vocal approach, this is simply a stunning record of which every individual contributor can be justifiably proud.
Buy the album here: https://www.convergecult.com/
9 / 10