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REVIEW: Converge – “Jane Live”

Salem, MA metalcore/mathcore pioneers Converge released a live recording of all songs from their 2001 Jane Doe album on March 3, entitled Jane Live. How this review of it came about is interesting.

Scene: The cluttered basement of It Djents HQ

I stumbled down the carpeted, dark, narrow stairway. It took a moment or two for my eyes to adjust to the light. I saw shelves and shelves of albums. Large speakers hung from the ceiling in every corner of the room. Nobody was in the room but myself. Then I heard Inter’s quiet, unassuming voice through the sound system: ‘Finally, you are here. Please select an album to review this week.’

I turned to the shelf of review copies and picked through them when I came upon Jane Live by Converge. I pulled it off the shelf to examine it, then turned to ask the disembodied voice ‘what subgenre does this fall into?’

Inter said: ‘Converge.’

I waited, as if there was more for him to say than that, but no elaboration came from the speakers.

‘Uhm, OK. Well, have you listened to it yet?’

Inter said: ‘I listen to everything.’

Of course that is true. I resisted the urge to slap myself for asking such a stupid question. ‘OK, well, what is your initial opinion of it?’

He said: ‘Converge.’

I felt uneasy at that. ‘May I take this for review?’

‘Why are you still here, Andrew?’

I grabbed the album and went back to the stairs to return to the surface. Something made me feel ill at ease about this.

Background

Converge sound like Converge. Some comparisons could be made to The Dillinger Escape Plan, since they are both ‘ur-examples’ of mathcore. But given that Converge are nearly a decade older than Dillinger, this comparison would not be strictly accurate; Converge have a more straight hardcore sound with metallic accents, less in the way of deliberate dissonance and not as much ‘moodiness’. If anything on Jane Live (or any other of their albums, for that matter) sounds familiar, then it would be because this most early of metalcore bands had a profound influence on the scene. Name any metalcore, deathcore, or djent band, and there is a more than fair chance that Converge did something along their lines first, even if the other band was not aware of it.

So, as is pretty common for fourth albums, Converge’s 2001 opus Jane Doe received universal critical acclaim and still polls as their finest. It appears on at least 10 ‘best album’ lists, be it for 2001, its decade or its perpetuity.

So Is Jane Live Good?

In one word: yes. Those unfamiliar with the band might be better off listening to the original studio album. Jane Live shows the band in peak form, playing their most beloved material to a festival crowd (specifically Roadburn in Tilburg, Netherlands in 2016), so it works well as an introduction, too.

Hardcore fans will undoubtedly have fun dissecting Jane Live’s new take on familiar songs. Whether it is the straight hardcore groove of “Hell To Pay”, the sheer noise terror of “Homewrecker”, the dizzying stompfest that is “The Broken Vow”, or the epically disturbing title track “Jane Doe”: Converge fans will welcome hearing these songs played as a unit, live and raw.

Of course, this is all just to whet the fans’ appetites. Converge stated earlier this year that the recording of their ninth studio album will begin this spring (around the time of writing this, in other words). That would be their first studio effort since 2012! Jane Live might be all we have to tide us over until then, but if it is little more than between-album filler, then it is damn good between-album filler.

The cover of Converge's "Jane Live" is a re-imagining over the original cover of the 2001 "Jane Doe" album

(The cover of Converge’s Jane Live is a re-imagining over the original cover of the 2001 Jane Doe album)

 

Score: 7/10

Notable Tracks: “Homewrecker”; “Jane Doe”; “Hell to Pay”

FFO: Converge, Dillinger Escape Plan, Car Bomb

Converge have a web site, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and they are on Instagram too. The Jane Live album can be heard on Bandcamp.

 

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