Music Critic Greg Woodin reviews Carnival Magnifico 2018 at the newly opened B5 ArenaWritten by Greg Woodin on 20th June 2018
Essential Albums: Converge – Jane Doe
Greg Woodin looks back on this cathartic metallic hardcore masterpiece
Believe me when I say you will not understand a single word vocalist Jacob Bannon screams throughout this entire album. In fact, the vocals are probably the main thing that will stop a first-time listener giving the album a chance, which is a shame: Bannon’s vocals are so integral to the aesthetic of Jane Doe that it is impossible to replace them and retain the album’s sheer visceral impact. In anguished shrieks Bannon pledges ‘Dear, I’ll stay gold’ over and over on opener ‘Concubine’, a short-acting shot of adrenaline that kicks the album into gear without warning. Perfect vocal technique it isn’t (I’m not sure how Bannon’s vocal chords survived the recording of this album) but, like much of Jane Doe, deference to classical music theory here is generally avoided in favour of pure, unbridled catharsis.
“If you can look past the unrelenting sonic sludge the band projectile vomit into a kind of ‘music’, it’s actually pretty beautiful
Certainly, no album essentially full of love songs has approached the writing of its music with such aggression as is on display here, but that doesn’t mean Jane Doe is all flat-out, high-octane stuff. There are some softer moments here, too, like the menacing ‘Hell to Pay’, which boasts a brooding bassline courtesy of Nate Newton and arpeggios that float above the mix like vultures circling prey. ‘Phoenix in Flight’ is another slow-burner, lulling the listener into a false sense of security before exploding in spasms of feedback and muddy power chords at the death. Even the clean vocals showcased on these tracks are distorted and warped beyond comprehension, becoming just another texture in the music rather than a focal point.
“At its core, Jane Doe is a testament to the power of love - but in decidedly bleaker terms than you might be familiar with
With Jane Doe, Converge created a masterpiece of raw, unfiltered emotion, using music’s most aggressive, hostile medium to put a new slant on the devastation of heartbreak. In pop music, love is exalted above all other emotions, but little attention is shown to the true desolation that love can leave in its wake. On Jane Doe, Converge show that beauty and ugliness are just two sides of the same coin. It is this that makes the album such a classic of its genre, and one that will stand as the prototype for metallic hardcore for years to come.