.Every Record I Own - Day 259: Converge No Heroes
Here we are at entry number 259 and I feel like this is the first time I’ve covered an artist here where I’m a little frustrated by my collection. I didn’t have a lot to say about Poacher Diaries yesterday and I don’t have a lot to say about No Heroes. I think this is a great record with one of their best songs (”Plagues”), but it’s also an album I neglected for a couple of years after its release. After all, this was their sixth album, and as is often my struggle with prolific artists, I wasn’t sure if I needed every single record in their discography. I pulled this from a used bin sometime shortly before the release of Axe To Fall. In my defense, I was broke as shit during those years.
I would rather discuss Petitioning the Empty Sky, which I first procured on CD back in ‘96, and how it’s blend of death metal, traditional hardcore, and DC/San Diego-style emo was pretty much everything I wanted out of music at the time. Or we could talk about When Forever Comes Crashing—an album I’d heard in bits and pieces beforehand from seeing some of the songs live, having a boombox demo of three songs passed along to me at a Botch/Converge show at Gilman sometime in ‘97, and the appearance of key tracks on earlier releases—and how I struggled to get past Steve Austin’s trebly, blown-out, vocal-heavy original mix. I’d love to talk about Jane Doe, and how the addition of Ben Koller and Nate Newton meant that Converge finally had a rhythm section to match Kurt Ballou’s harrowing fretboard gymnastics. I’d love to talk about how that record made Converge feel less like a standout in the world of metallic hardcore and more like an institution in the broader world of dark and heavy music. And I’d really love to talk about You Fail Me, and how it felt like the band was deliberately making a difficult fucked-up record in the wake of Jane Doe’s success. Where most bands would try to follow up a hit with a glossier album, Converge made a record that sounded trashier and gnarlier while simultaneously ditching more of the straightforward hardcore pay-offs of their past work.
But instead I have No Heroes to talk about, and if there’s anything significant about this album, it’s that it feels like the first Converge album where they had everything in place—the line-up was rock solid, Jake had his artistic aesthetic dialed in, and Kurt knew how to capture the band’s sound in the studio. They had perfected their chemistry and said “this is who we are.”