3 out of 5
Produced by: Andrew Schneider, Jacob Bannon, Kurt Ballou (Converge), Billy Anderson, (Hellchild)
I do love me a nice, structured split album: Converge and Hellchild each offer up an original, a cover, and two live tracks.
Since I bought this for Converge, let me not choose my bias and speak to Hellchild first, an apparently quite established band with which I’m unfamiliar. HC’s material is bookended by the better two tracks out of their four: new song 1 and a live cut of Without Any Answer. The former segues between death metal indiscipherable screeches and the kind of warbling that does kind of remind of early Converge, with either thrash or rock riffs backing it up. It’s not the most defined or original track, and feels rather mushily produced, but it does the job as something heavy. The closing live song actually comes across as sharper, and its main guitar lick stands out. The preceding live song doesn’t have great sound quality, and rather plods along, with their cover – of a Bulldozer track – also rather plodding, but perhaps that’s shared with the original? It sounds pretty sharp when it’s in motion, with some good thrashin’.
On the Converge side of things, both the studio tracks and live tracks just sound, fidelity-wise, a heckuva lot better. Thaw – soon to appear on Jane Doe – was the new track, and it’s a damned barn-stormer of one, taking Converge into its new era of stop-and-change-on-a-dime hardcore, and blowing away any of the Hellchild tracks. The live cuts (which are actually split up into three, but one’s sort of an intro to another), taken from preceding splits and singles, are of the loud and brash Converge variety, but that’s not a bad thing: the group brings it live, and these tracks capture their speed and intensity well. The cover, of Depeche Mode’s ‘Clean’ is maybe more interesting than anything else, playing it relatively straight – not shouted vocals; electronic affectations – but in so doing, making it a quirky inclusion as opposed to required listening.
Which means that the majority of the good Converge stuff found here can also be found elsewhere, so up to your take on Hellchild, or your need to own all Converge-yness, if that makes it worth your dollars or not.