Thursday, 17 July 2008

Converge - The Poacher Diaries

In all my excitement about seeing Converge tomorrow, I decided to do a bit of a Converge special today. And so, to get things going, I present you with their 1999 split with Agoraphobic Nosebleed, The Poacher Diaries. (Agoraphobic Nosebleed's side isn't worth bothering with. Trust me on this one. Regard it as a Converge EP).


This split has some of Converge's most punishing cuts to date. Opening with Locust Reign (a short but sweet live favourite) and This is Mine, the four-piece waste no time in announcing their presence with two short, sharp blows to the eardrums. From there on it gets a bit more pensive with the almost psychedelic They Stretch For Miles (featuring a very well-placed Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas sample) before resuming the skull-crushing riffathon in My Great Devastator (the album's best track) and The Human Shield. Minnesota concludes the album in epic fashion, featuring some great slide guitar and clean vocals (yes, your ears aren't deceiving you, that's Jacob Bannon doing some actual singing). The brutality and relative brevity of Converge's side of this split, alongside the overall strength of the songwriting, makes this one a keeper.

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The Poached Diaries" finds Converge pushing their quirky, black version of screamy hardcore even further than before, with layered textures, throat-splitting emissions, and good old-fashioned metal riffs out the ass. Agoraphoric Nosebleed, as the name might suggest, offer an even more peculiar and cut-throat version of hardcore, complete with drum machine and off-the-wall samples. The mesh of these two bands results in one of the better and more interesting hardcore albums to see the light of day in the late '90s.
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