Today’s record: Jane Doe by Converge (2001)
I resisted this!
It will shock you to learn that I can be contrary at times. (Right?) By 2001 I was a bit annoyed with metal. I joined, and was thoroughly disappointed by, the “rock soc” at university. Metal was everywhere, in the shape of Limp Bizkit, Disturbed and Linkin Park, and non-metal people were wearing Motorhead and AC/DC t-shirts. It was over.
So obviously, any metal that came out in that time couldn’t be good. I resisted this.
My man Rich Bee made me a MiniDisc compilation around that time (I think it was called “I like being thanked). On it, among other delights, was ‘Concubine’, by Converge.
I remember being on the platform at Manchester Piccadilly station one Saturday morning, on the way back to Leeds. During the wait, I played ‘Concubine’. When it finished, I skipped back to the start of the song. It was quite a long wait, and the song is about 90 seconds long. I listened to it many times.
Still I resisted the album.
But it is amazing. I think it won a few plaudits for best metal album of the noughties, and I probably wouldn’t fight that. It’s about a very messy breakup, and not only is the singer very upset, but it sounds like the rest of the band is upset for him. Like REALLY UPSET. But still able to articulate the upset, for the most part, and in a really technically accomplished manner.
Every song is insane, and heavy and noisy, but in different ways. you’ve got the hardcore fury of ‘Concubine’, you’ve got songs of almost white noise, you’ve got the epic, bizarrely melodic ten minute dry heave of anguish that is the title track.
But my favourites are when they just put the pedal to the metal, and rock more than you ever thought anyone could. ‘Homewrecker’ and the beautifully-named ‘Heaven in Her Arms’ are just unfairly good, especially when the latter gives you a false finish before lurching into reverse to run over your prone body like in the Righteous Gemstones.