June 2020 Feature Release - The Revolution Edition
It's now June which of course means that we'll be nominating a brand new monthly feature release for each clan. This essentially means that we're asking you to rate, review & discuss our chosen features for no other reason than because we enjoy the process & banter.
This month's feature release for The Revolution is the epic monster of a record that is the 2001 fourth album "Jane Doe" from US mathcore masters Converge. It's widely regarded as the pinnacle of the subgenre & for good reason. Do you think it's deserving of that status? We'd like to find out.
I'm a big fan of this record & I have a strong affiliation with their entire back catalogue. "Jane Doe" is probably Converge's heaviest & most intense record & is as abrasive as it is ambitious. The level of musicianship these guys possess is pretty amazing but I've never been completely comfortable with the vocals which does tend to cap my scoring potential. This isn't my favourite Converge record. The 2004 follow-up "You Fail Me" owns that title at the moment but there's no question that this is a classy & challenging release. It's a 4/5 from me.
I did my review! Here's its summary:
Jane Doe is considered to be Converge's greatest achievement, and that sounds just about right! Everything is in a seamless flow as each band member pours out all their emotion to be able to fuse together this math-metalcore classic album. They have their signature intense screaming vocals, crushing guitar riffs, insane drumming, beautiful undecipherable lyrics, and strongly present killer bass, all put in this perfect cauldron of hardcore metal madness! What's brilliant about Jane Doe is not only the great tracks but also how they flow into a superb concept album. Is this a concept album? Probably... The lyrics focus on heartbreak and separation, whereas the music is powerful enough to pin you to the wall and start punching you in the head and kicking you in the b*lls until you're bleeding and begging for mercy. Proceed with caution! Everything to show you what extreme hardcore is all about can be found from its one-minute "intro" to its glorious 11 and a half minute title epic. I would recommend this ultimate metalcore masterpiece to fans of music that is intelligent, emotional, and brutal. You have to make a full listening experience to put it in the best part of your metalcore collection. Jane Doe ain't anonymous no more!
As a fervent Metalcore hater through high school and even somewhat today, I'm glad that a group like Converge existed at the turn of the century to really show the genre how it's done. Much of this style of music banks on the emotional factor of being unreasonably angry and expressing it in a way that can easily become angst filled or whiny, but Jane Doe dodges that bullet by being overly chaotic and heavy as hell. It's hard to pick out too many things after just one or two listens since so much of the album is just an abrasive mess, but there is obviously something under the rough exterior. What's under there still doesn't appeal to me too much, since even though the vocals are emotional and raw I can't say I like how low quality-like they sound. The technicality of the riffing and seamless transitions into the breakdowns are impressive, but get old pretty quickly for me after the first half of the album. The whole experience is just a whirlwind of interesting but random riffs amidst fuzzed out screaming that somehow comes together to form a cohesive but sometimes annoying package.
I think this album has the potential to really grow on me though, as its an obviously tough one to completely unpack. I really wish more modern Metalcore sounded like this, I'd be willing to change my mind about the genre as a whole if that was the case.
I just recently posted my review for a new metalcore band called END and their album Splinters From an Ever-Changing Face and a lot of what I said in that review can be easily transposed and shared with my opinion of Jane Doe. It's frantic, it's aggressive, it doesn't give more than twenty seconds before changing the groove/rhythm up entirely, and it's alarmingly nihilistic. This album (as well as END) is the end result of pent up frustration of being able to do...nothing. Kind of fitting given the times. And I can see why an album like this exists and I can certainly respect those who find it an absolute masterpiece within the subgenre.
I am not apart of that target audience. From a compositional level, the frantic nature of the music is disjointed. While their may be some great ideas, they are as quickly tossed away as they were conceived, never to return again. It makes the music frantic, but it doesn't make it memorable. From a sonic point of view, the bass is heavily muted, Bannon's vocals are blown out in the mix to all hell, the percussion is super compressed on the first half of the disc, and while the guitars are this albums best feature, their contribution feels slightly muted due to a lack of vocal counterpoint during the breakdowns, and the aforementioned bass presence.
In the end, I gave this as well as Splinters From an Ever-Changing Face the same score because they both made me feel the same way. I feel like my review for this album was overly harsh however, simply because of it's stature as one of the all time greatest metalcore albums, but I believe it's justified in this case, since I can see where abstraction can sound good, when complimented with solid melodic framing and groove. I much prefer the same era albums from Dillinger Escape Plan, but I do also enjoy the post-hardcore elements from Converge with Axe to Fall and beyond. Perhaps all hope isn't lost after all.