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As pioneers and groundbreakers of metalcore, Converge maintained consistent status as one of the most original and innovative bands to emerge from the punk underground. The group came into their own around the time of their landmark 2001 album Jane Doe, growing into a tightly defined entity from the lineup changes and sound-searching that defined their hardcore beginnings. They expanded from there, signing to Epitaph Records and consistently turning in elaborate and meticulously produced albums like 2009's collaboration-heavy Axe to Fall or 2012's emotionally volatile All We Love We Leave Behind. As each new record did better than the last commercially, the band challenged their own creative limits and sought to push the boundaries and intensity of heavy music with each new phase of their decades-long run.
Converge formed in Salem, Massachusetts in the winter of 1990-1991, and after several singles, compilation appearances, and the requisite growing pains, they released their first full-length effort, Halo in a Haystack, in 1994. The band initially comprised vocalist/visual artist Jacob Bannon, guitarist Kurt Ballou, bassist Jeff Feinburg, and drummer Damon Bellorado, with second guitarist Aaron Dalbec joining in 1994 (he later left in 2001 without being replaced). Over the years, the band also found time to lend out members to various side projects, including Kingdom of the Sun, Old Man Gloom, and Kid Kilowatt (the short-lived band that also included members of Cave In).
Hydra Head issued Caring and Killing in 1996, which gathered tracks released during the band's infancy, followed a year later by Petitioning the Empty Sky, which was released by the independent label Equal Vision. Cave In's Stephen Brodsky replaced bassist Feinburg in 1997 as well, and by the release of 1998's When Forever Comes Crashing, Converge had proved themselves a force to be reckoned with in the hardcore-metal scene. Brodsky left the band that same year and was replaced by bassist Nate Newton; Bellorado likewise exited in 1999 and, soon enough, the band had welcomed drummer Ben Koller into the fray. A split with Japan's Hellchild appeared in 2001 through Death Wish, Inc. (which Bannon co-owned) before Converge's ever-growing reputation among fans and critics was cemented even further with the release of the band's fourth official full-length, the highly acclaimed metal masterpiece Jane Doe.
Converge were by now regarded as one of the most original and innovative bands to emerge from the punk underground. Trudging along, during that time the musicians played over 600 shows with varying success -- their hard work made it possible for them to retain their cult status within the punk underground without the kind of commercial success that had vaulted other punk bands into the middle of alternative rock radio and press. Rare and out of print tracks were next collected for 2003's Unloved and Weeded Out compilation before Converge returned the following year with another studio album, You Fail Me, which marked the band's first for Epitaph. Always reliable and consistently brutal, Bannon, Ballou, Koller, and Newton were back after more rounds of touring by October 2006 with No Heroes, followed three years later by Axe to Fall. The latter album found Converge working collaboratively with members of Cave In, Neurosis, and the Red Chord.
In 2012, the band released its eighth studio album, All We Love We Leave Behind. In 2016, the band issued You Fail Me Redux, a reissue of its fifth studio album remixed by Ballou, remastered by Alan Douches, and repackaged by Bannon. A live performance of the entire Jane Doe album was captured at the Dutch Roadburn Festival and released in 2017 as Jane Live. Later that year, Converge released "Under Duress," the first single from their sixth full-length outing, The Dusk in Us, which arrived in November. Four songs from the same recording sessions that produced The Dusk in Us were released in the summer of 2018 as the Beautiful Ruin EP. ~ Stacia Proefrock
- Boston, MA
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