Every Converge album is a milestone in the heavy music community and the band’s latest is the most integral album to date in a catalog that’s celebrated to an almost religious degree by countless fans of punk, metal and hardcore. For the first time in years All We Love We Leave Behind is an album that contains no special guests or outside collaborators and every aspect of the music, production and aesthetics of the album was handled by Converge in order to give listeners an unfiltered glimpse into the creative vision of these Boston-based innovators.
Once again recorded and mixed by guitarist Kurt Ballou at his renowned Godcity Studios in Salem, Massachusetts, All We Love We Leave Behind is a no-frills Converge album that sees the band—which also features vocalist Jacob Bannon, bassist Nate Newton and drummer Ben Koller—eschewing fancy production techniques in order to create seventeen songs that work as a cohesive whole yet can also stand on their own. “There’s no artificial distortion, triggers, or Auto-Tune on this album,” Ballou explains, “it’s all organic, it’s real sounds that capture the way the band performs live.”
As one of the most established acts in heavy music Converge’s ability to write and produce songs is now second nature, a fact that’s obvious upon a cursory listen to All We Love We Leave Behind. “I think we really stepped up our game on this record. The most important thing to this band is that with every album we want to create something that excites us and moves us in some way,” explains Bannon, who also crafted a 50-page book of original artwork inspired by the songs that accompanies the release. “There are a lot of subtle nuances on this record are really special to us and we definitely hit those individually on this record.”
From the classic rock-inflected, guitar tapping madness of “Sadness Comes Home” to the technical acrobatics of “Aimless Arrow” and relentless assault of “Shame In The Way,” All We Love We Leave Behind is an extremely varied album that has enough sonic shifts to captivate each listener’s attention. “It’s always been important for us to have a lot of dynamics in our music because no one wants to listen to a million miles an hour all the time,” Bannon responds when asked about the melodic mid-tempo groove of a song like “Coral Blue.” “I really enjoy that song, it has a lot of twists musically that aggressive songs don’t usually have and that’s something we take pride in.”
Lyrically Bannon approached All We Love We Leave Behind by once again writing about his own personal experiences, however there’s no question that this time around his vocals are more direct and decipherable than they’ve been in the past. “This is a personal record and all of the songs tell their own stories,” Bannon explains. “Every song is rooted in real life, documenting what I have experienced over the past few years.” Correspondingly the title of the album is an apology letter to everything he has had to leave behind in order to his path in art and music. Bannon explains that he feels like it’s important to acknowledge these sacrifices in order to be “a self aware individual.”
“All of our albums are emotional but I feel this is our most potent album to date,” Bannon continues. “For me a songs like ‘Predatory Glow’ and ‘Empty on the Inside’ have a tone and resonance that communicates in a new way for our band,” he adds, chalking up this ability to the fact that the group have become better songwriters by spending so much time on the road and in the studio perfecting their craft. “Success to me is creating something that’s moving and fulfilling and I truly feel both of those things when I listen back and experience this album from start to finish.” Converge have always been the type of band that never fit into one subculture and the band credit that to the fact that since their 2001 landmark album Jane Doe they haven’t had any member changes. “I think because it’s been the same four people for the past five records we’ve been able to really get comfortable with each other and develop our own personality,” Ballou explains. “I don’t listen to much music outside of what we’ve recorded so I think we’re more influenced by our own history of playing together than what’s currently happening in any scene.”
In other words when Ballou explains that Converge is the kind of band who have always existed between worlds, it’s not just lip service. “We don’t have one typical type of listener but they tend to be intelligent people who can make up their own minds about things. That works to our advantage because they’re willing to go on this journey with us and follow along with whatever twists and turns we take them on,” he summarizes. Ultimately All We Love We Leave Behind may not be the most straightforward musical journey you’ll embark on but it’s one that you’ll revisit over and over again to relive prior experiences and simultaneously create new ones. It all begins now.
– Jonah Bayer