Bloodmoon: I

Written by: PP on 08/01/2022 12:54:03

The "Bloodmoon" concept first saw the light of day at the 2016 edition of Roadburn Festival, where members of Converge teamed up with Chelsea Wolfe and her longtime collaborator Ben Chisholm, ex-Converge and current Cave In mastermind Stephen Brodsky, and a few others to perform an ambitious rework of their most experimental and atmospheric material in what our writer AP called a one of a kind experience. The concept was so successful that the group (minus Steve Von Till) decided to cooperate again to write a studio album in the same vein, dubbed as "Bloodmoon: I", which has been released under the regular Converge brand rather than as its own entity.

Coming into the record as a fan of Converge's annihilating pummel-and-destroy instrumental methodology will quite certainly bring about a radical initial shock. Records like "You Fail Me" and "Jane Doe" have shown an eerily atmospheric and haunting side to the band in the past, but never quite like this. Chelsea Wolfe's haunting, gothic style vocals float high in a post-rock/post-metal inspired ambiance, only occasionally broken by Jacob Bannon's merciless bark, as he spends the majority of the album on baritone clean vocals.

The soundscape is extensive and expansive, introducing orchestral elements and electronic ambiance unlike anything on previous Converge material. For example, "Viscera Of Man" is a magnificent reinterpretation of their sound, starting with their signature-style chaotic hardcore delivered at a breakneck speed tempo before breaching directly into what feels like a gothic metal soundscape with industrial, almost sci-fi-esque elements attached to it. Here, the Cave In and Chelsea Wolfe blend is perhaps at its most visible where elements from both are merged with the art-rock of "Jane Doe"-era Converge.

"Tongues Playing Dead" is one of the few tracks on the record that unleashes Bannon's throat-destroying brawl, thus appealing to the fans of Converge's recent output, although the groovy and dirtily-distorted guitars shift the song more towards the likes of Every Time I Die. Likewise, "Lord Of Liars" is heavy on breakdowns and intricate guitars, also featuring screamed vocals, but here it's clear that Chelsea Wolfe is in the lead with her dark, haunting style. Whether you think that's a good or a bad thing will depend on your opinion on gothic-style vocals in general.

I'm not a fan, despite appreciating her contribution to the album's ambiance as a whole. The best moments of the album are not where she is in the lead but instead tracks like "Failure Forever", a softly sung, progressive track that's more in the vein of Cave In material circa-"Antenna" era, with the occasional coarsely growled vocals contrasting nicely. It's a chilling track that simultaneously feels infectiously catchy due to its soothing cleans. Its polar opposite is "Scorpion's Sting", a balladic track with Wolfe in charge that never transcends beyond meh despite clear intentions to build ambiance and atmosphere throughout.

"Crimson Stone" is arguably the second-best track on the album despite being positioned as second last on the one-hour effort. But you need to be patient. The first half of the nearly seven-minute mammoth is spent in a softly sung, ethereal territory with classical piano and gentle guitar strumming the dual vocal approach. But at its peak, Bannon's growl contrasting the cleans in alternating lines is pure atmospheric godhood.

Overall, "Bloodmoon: I" is a monumental record that once again highlights the out-of-the-box thinking of Converge. There's a reason why this unit has been pioneering heavy music stylistically for the duration of their entire career, and "Bloodmoon: I" is just the latest chapter, albeit their most ambitious one thus far. It also means the record is difficult to absorb and requires lengthy repeat listens where you are paying close attention; such is the sheer amount of depth present on the album. Is it their best album? Not by a long shot. You could even argue it should've been released separately from the Converge brand as it's so radically different from their other recorded output. Records like "No Heroes", "Jane Doe", "You Fail Me" and "Petitioning The Empty Sky" all triumph this record, but that just goes to say how many great albums Converge has written over the years.

Download: Failure Forever, Crimson Stone, Viscera Of Men, Tongues Playing Dead
For the fans of: Chelsea Wolfe, Cave In, Neurosis,
Listen: Facebook

Release date 19.11.2021
Epitaph / Deathwish

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