Converge - "You Fail Me"

dB HoF No. 132

Label: Epitaph Records
Release date: September 20th, 2004

In 1982, L.A. synth-poppers Missing Persons scored a minor Billboard hit with “Destination Unknown” (“Has it all been said and done? / I know I’ll leave when it’s my time to go / ’Til then I’ll carry on with what I know”). Two decades later, everything about the preceding sentence was eerily applicable to a band that couldn’t be less predisposed to cranking out disposable new wave nuggets: Salem, MA’s Converge. The nigh-unclassifiable hardcore/metal/punk/math/emo whirlwind did maximum damage in 2001 with fourth full-length Jane Doe, a jarringly bitter purée of the aforementioned genres (and then some) that we proudly and correctly named the greatest metal album of its decade in 2010. From the jaw-dropping leadoff combo (“Concubine”/“Fault and Fracture”) to frontman Jacob Bannon’s iconic cover art, still visible on hoodies across the globe, Jane flawless synergized ambition, muscle, chops and unhinged, almost feral emotion.

Where do you go from there? Has it all been said and done? Luckily, these kinds of rhetorical questions, which journalists and fans love to hem and haw over, were not about to confuse Converge. Bannon, guitarist Kurt Ballou, bassist Nate Newton and drummer Ben Koller hit the road at length to support Jane Doe, working out songs for the hotly anticipated followup on their own creative timeline. Nearly half the songs on 2004's You Fail Me (including the titanic, single-note riff of the centerpiece title track) appeared on the road in some permutation before the album’s Epitaph debut, exactly four years and two weeks to the day after Jane. The long layoff gave engineer Ballou plenty of time to not just build his current GodCity studio, but obliterate his fretting hand in one of our favorite tour derps of all time.

You Fail Me began a still unbroken string of Converge “writing albums, [rather than] completing releases,” according to Bannon, and he’s dead on—the second half couldn’t be more thrillingly eclectic. We’ll never forget Jane Doe’s blunt force trauma, but You Fail Me was Converge learning to scalpel in cursive, and the Hall of Fame is proud to host this postmortem.

- Andrew Bonazelli
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