Killing Your Darlings: Jane Doe, Converge

Album cover © Equal Vision Records

I don’t like Jane Doe. Yeah, that’s right, you, you reading this, reading this right now, with the Jane Face hoodie, t–shirt, patch, tattoo and flip flops, I said it.

Context:

I like Converge (I wrote a piece about Nate Newton’s bass playing here).

I like their early material, like Halo in A Haystack (1994).

I like their more recent material, like All We Love We Leave Behind (2012).

I don’t like Jane Doe.

Decibel described it in their Hall of Fame, six and a half years on from its 2001 release, as ‘…[F]ar and away the most crucial metallic hardcore record since fellow Massholes Cave In […] unleashed Until Your Heart Stops three years earlier […] It was feral, it was ferocious, it was fucking unstoppable. And it’s still all those things today.’ [1]

Listening through it again, I found things that I like; opening track Concubine is full of very cool, jagged riffs, the riff to Homewrecker wouldn’t leave my head for a while, Phoenix in Flight makes me feel all fuzzy and mellow, and the eponymous final track, with its build up, clean ‘ahhs’ and guitar melody, is great. The lyrics are great (Homewrecker : ‘I have bled and I have given/The longest of rivers and the longest of ropes/And you’re not grasping and my light is sinking on the horizon/Knee deep among your wreckage and uncertainty’). I even enjoyed the Berklee video about the making of this album.

Yet, loyal readers, dislike it I do, mainly due to the lack of melody in Jacob Bannon’s vocals. His vocal style has always been divisive – nothing by Converge is going to make it onto Ultimate Chillout any time ever – but listening to Concubine, it’s just so squawky, even when compared to surrounding albums When Forever Comes Crashing and You Fail Me. The same for Fault and Fracture; the drumming’s great, but by the time I’ve gotten through it and onto third track Distance and Meaning I want to pinch the bridge of my nose and listen to Kenny G, and it just goes on. Hell To Pay has some very catchy riffs and cool time signature switches, and the chugging chorus riff with the cowbell and the structure of Homewrecker are great, but again with the squawk.

By the time I’ve gotten to eighth track Heaven In Her Arms I just can’t take it. You don’t like three quarters of a band (or in this case, an album); you gotta like all of it (which is why I can only partially get into …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and Muse). Every now and then something wicked comes along, like the breakdown in this song, or the melody in that chorus, that hooks you back in, only to realise you don’t like any other part of it.

I like the aforementioned surrounding albums When Forever Comes Crashing and You Fail Me (ignoring split release Deeper The Wound and compilation Unloved And Weeded Out), finding them both to be diverse listens. In comparison Jane Doe feels monotonous, ultimately living up (or down?) to its namesake.

I like Converge.

I like their early material.

I like their more recent material.

I don’t like Jane Doe.

  1. https://www.decibelmagazine.com/2008/01/01/converge-jane-doe/
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