Wear Your Wounds – Rust On the Gates of Heaven

3 out of 5

Label: Deathwish

Produced by: Kurt Ballou

Y’know, I’ve listened to this disc forwards and backwards and forwards, because, eh, it’s not that memorable to me, but the scattering of reviews I’ve found seem to express positive opinions quite distinct from “not that memorable.” So I’ve been going on repeat, waiting for it to click – letting it be background, going more detailed, song by song. It’s quite beautiful at points, with some great riffs, and I like the “mood” and contemplative, nature-theming of it, but it still just ain’t happening. It feels off. It feels like the album doesn’t actually start until the fourth track – prior to that, it’s all variations on a theme of slow piano clinkings and warm guitars with some dashes of distorted punctuation – and Kurt Ballou’s production, Kurt likely trying to purposefully divert from his low-end heavy sound for something a bit more conducive to the disc’s vibe, undermines some of the excellent quiet-to-loud juxtapositions that crop up, such as on Rainbow Fades. I’d blame Converge fandom – this is a Jacob Bannon side-ish project – on the ‘can’t do no wrong’ opinions on the disc, but previous WYW releases haven’t gotten such a glowing reception, so I don’t think that’s it. I find I feel rather similarly about Jesu: I dig the concept, but it doesn’t land as hard with me as it seems to with others, so maybe there’s something about this particular range of mushy guitars and flat, spoken vocals that will never make my top ten.

I will say I have new respect for Bannon’s lyricism. I already appreciated the intelligent fury he’s brought to Converge, but I do really like how personal these tracks feel without feeling corny. And with a support crew of Cave In guitarist Adam McGrath and Trap Them drummer Chris Maggio (as well as The Red Chord guitarist Mike McKenzie, but I can’t claim familiarity with the band…), the musicianship is sharp. I like Rust on the Gates, but it doesn’t call out to me in any special way. However, the select tracks where it suddenly breaks through into something that connects – the building of Love in Peril; Brittle Peril – make me hopeful that some day the whole album may have that appeal, and so certainly keeps me interested in seeing if Bannon continues with this project, and how it develops.