There are reviews in which it’s most important to be able to not try to outperform the band in length, in detail, in elaboration for these records bathe in the glory of the mystique – maybe not performance-wise because that can clearly be analyzed and described – but in the way they came to be. One of these – in this author’s opinion – is the latest Converge record Bloodmoon:I! So let’s have a look at this new opus magnum!
Every year, we witness these records whose eclecticism annoys the hell out of some people and forces other people to love it for exactly that. Most people love records which give them the feeling of one closed picture with every corner adorned with fitting little details that then create a larger universe full of perfectly-fitting sounds that finally reveal one wonderful elaborated picture. If you like such records – stay away from Bloodmoon:I because you might not get what the band is trying to deliver here. And the way they constructed his record with eleven songs from very different musical backgrounds are not meant to show you one flowing picture, the two middle tracks ”Tongues Playing Dead“ and ”Lord of Liars“ wouldn’t fit that idea. Both tracks are much faster than the rest of the record, especially ”Tongues…” is a very straightforward hardcore-stomper with lots of blood pumping through Ben Koller’s veins and into his drum sticks. The same could be said about ”Lord …” but that one is a bit more experimental with several typical Mathy elements and another brilliant Koller-performance.
The ones who read closely will have detected one of the keywords in this context – the two mighty uptempo-tracks form the middle of the record so that they also serve like a partition and yes, the record has a good flow, when you do not seek it within one genre only, that becomes clear with the seventh track ”Failure Forever“ whose less frantic nature but uptempo-beat and spacey hall-laden chorus are indicators that the collective might have tried to write a track to proclaim their love for Ken Andrews’ most famous project, as if they wanted to say “Failure! Forever!”. When listening to Jacob screaming these two words with single exclamation marks it becomes quite hard to abandon the thought.
Failure might have been one influence for the record – but only one amongst many others. Others might have been the doomy side of folk and who could embody that vocally better than Chelsea Wolfe? Nobody! And the moments when she turns the near-shanties of her colleagues into pure doom-folk gold are nothing short of magic. Just listen to her in songs like “Scorpion’s Sting” when her vocals embellish the hall-effect over the shuffling beat. It’s hard to imagine anyone doing it better. And when her voice dances around with Stephen Brodsky’s it becomes obvious that he is much more than just the male clean singer (while Jacob gives his awesome screams, growls and clean spoken parts like no other could) – a song like ”Daimon” shows how well the three different vocal styles work together. A track that would not fit on any band member’s other outlets, not on Chelsea’s solo stuff, not on Steve’s Mutoid Man-project and also not on a regular Converge record.
But hey – what is a regular Converge record nowadays? Anyone who really followed the band and their output over the last decade should have seen that this is not a pure hardcore band anymore. They are not afraid to create sounds and songs that will challenge some parts of their audience as long as it’s something that feels natural to them, which makes sense to them. This record is no second Jane, no new You Fail Me, but also in no way The Dusk In Us even though that one might is the closest in sound and chronology. However, it is also completely unrelated to Bloodmoon: I for this record is not a new chapter in Converge’s history, it’s a new book! Shall one expect them to pursue this kind of doomy, folk-influenced Townes Van Zandt-y songwriting stuff? Definitely not, because then one still has not understood that this band is not following your rules or expectations. They do not even follow their own, for rules do not exist in this universe. The collective behind this record might never perform or write new songs together, and if they don’t – then this testament is one of the greatest examples of how a record can flow from beginning to end without being a river or waterfall but by re-creating its own riverbed!