In life, there are those who follow and those who boldly forge their own path. Boston’s Converge have defined themselves over the past 15 years as one of the few bands who truly fits into the latter category—and their latest full-length No Heroes is quite possibly their most cerebral and ferocious album to date.
While their Epitaph debut You Fail Me helped the band—vocalist Jacob Bannon, guitarist Kurt Ballou, bassist Nate Newton and drummer Ben Koller—expand their audience outside the Converge Cult, No Heroes shows the group revisiting the sound of classic records like Petitioning The Empty Sky and When Forever Comes Crashing. “We don’t try to outdo ourselves each time in terms of making a heavy, ridiculous record, but this time we feel like we kind of did,” explains Bannon. “We’ve never been a band who’s just going through the motions and I think that shows on this record.”
Produced by Ballou at the band’s longtime studio/practice spot Godcity, No Heroes shows the band exploring new sonic textures while still retaining the palpable energy they’ve become known for. While the album blazes out of the gate with the aptly titled “To The Lions,” songs like “Orphaned” the instrumental “Plagues” prove that breakneck speed and heaviness aren’t necessarily interrelated—and when Converge lower the tempo, they’re able to effortlessly transcend traditional notions of “heaviness.”
Devotees of Jane Doe will also be blown away by epic tracks like the nine-minute “Grim Heart/Black Rose,” a doom masterpiece which shows that Bannon can sing as deftly as he can screams. “What we do is very different than what’s happening in the mainstream,” Bannon explains. “I think we’re a weird amalgamation of stuff that doesn’t really exist anymore that’s somewhere between the thrash world, the hardcore world, the punk world and the alt-rock world,” he continues. “We just went and did our thing on this record rather than try to make a name for ourselves or dilute our approach.”
From Bannon’s captivating artwork and introspective lyrics to Ballou’s masterful production techniques, Converge’s artistic vision has always separated the band from their peers, and No Heroes is no exception. “A lot of the bands that people consider to be our contemporaries don’t share that attention to detail,” Ballou admits, fresh off the Sounds Of The Underground amphitheatre tour. “With us, everything is carefully crafted and intentional, which is kind of ironic considering to a lot of people our music is just a wall of noise,” he continues. “I think a lot of what exists now is just decoration—and we’re simply not decoration.”
All of this ties into the album’s central theme: No Heroes. “There’s people who choose to stand up and do something and be relevant in life and there’s other people who choose to be part of a herd,” Bannon explains. “But, like any other Converge album, these songs are outwardly personal and we don’t really make any excuses for that. That’s just kind of what we are and what we dig.”
‘No Heroes’ is released October 23rd 2006