DB HOF NO. 35
The making of Converge’s “Jane Doe”
label: Equal Vision
Call it the face that launched a thousand metalcore graphic designers (into a rat-race of feverish mimicry). Call it the record that catapulted a certain Boston quartet (then quintet) into permanent cult status with a slew of face-ripping live staples (“Concubine,” “The Broken Vow” and “Bitter and Then Some”) and a soaring, epic title track. Call it Album of the Year, like our esteemed British colleagues at Terrorizer magazine did. Any way you break it down, Jane Doe was both a semi-melodic milestone (“Hell to Pay,” “Thaw,” the title track) and a discordant landmark (everything else), far and away the most crucial metallic hardcore record since fellow Massholes Cave In (who had since stepped bravely onto the major label playing field) unleashed Until Your Heart Stops three years earlier. Shit, it even had a song that was just drums and vocals (the 42-second apocalypse of “Phoenix In Flames”). It was feral, it was ferocious, it was fucking unstoppable. And it’s still all those things today.
It was also 2001, and change was everywhere. Bassist Nate Newton, formerly of Jesuit, had joined the band three years earlier and recorded on two split releases—1999’s The Poacher Diaries (with Agoraphobic Nosebleed) and 2000’s Deeper the Wound (with Japan’s Hellchild), the inaugural release from Converge vocalist Jake Bannon’s label, Deathwish, Inc.—but had yet to track a full-length with them. The band had also recently recruited local drum dervish Ben Koller, formerly of grind outfit Force Fed Glass, to replace skinsman Jon DiGiorgio. By the time the Jane Doe recording sessions—a three-month marathon spread across as many studios and helmed by Converge guitarist/producer Kurt Ballou—were complete, the band had kicked longtime second guitarist Aaron Dalbec (also of Bane) to the curb. On September 1st, Ballou was laid off from his job as a medical engineer at Boston Scientific (“it was like the adult version of playing with Legos”), thus freeing Converge to expand considerably upon their annual one-month touring schedule. On September 4, Jane Doe was released to considerable critical and popular acclaim. On September 11, the day the band was to embark upon a two-week tour with Playing Enemy, the Twin Towers fell and the world changed forever. Converge—now a sleek and furious four-piece—drove into New York City under a blanket of ash, on the road to a silver future.
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