14 Bands Who Wouldn’t Be Here Without Converge
Few bands have had as much of an influence on modern hardcore and metal as Converge. Since their inception, the Salem, Massachusetts, quartet have excited audiences and alarmed purists with their incensed, wholehearted mixture of straight-razor riffs, off-kilter drumming, and vomited-forth vocals about the human condition. And this doesn’t even take into account the ways in which the members of the band have influenced the scene outside of Converge, from frontman Jacob Bannon starting formative hardcore label Deathwish Inc. to guitarist Kurt Ballou becoming one of hardcore’s most respected producers.
In honor the fifteenth anniversary of Converge’s fifth album, You Fail Me, being released, we looked at the bands who simply wouldn’t exist without Converge. Here’s who we came up with…
It’s no secret that American blackened hardcore crew Trap Them at the very least respect Converge’s artistry, what with Kurt Ballou having produced all of their studio albums. More than that, though, it’s the band’s speedy, scraped-raw approach that shows their love of the specific style that Converge came to be known for. If you’ve overplayed Jane Doe and need something a little more Slayeriffic, this band’s an excellent option.
Listening to The 1975’s music, one probably wouldn’t assume that Converge were a part of their musical upbringing. But frontman Matt Healy has been vocal about how the band influenced him growing up, reminding fans that even pop stars had a swoop-hair-skinny-jeans phase. More so, this is an awesome illustration of just how many different kinds of bands owe Converge their livelihood. Hard to unhear this once the connection is made.
The power and confidence with which Code Orange blend genres speaks to how Converge paved the way for them. But the band has also mentioned Converge as a direct influence in interviews, and the way with which they line their grinding, punishing breakdowns with feedback and anguished vocals puts their appreciation firmly on their sleeves. It’s cool to see the next generation of bands pay tribute to their idols.
It’d be easy to point out Loma Prieta’s static rhythms and fuzz-drenched screams as what they borrowed from Converge — and yes, that’s a fair assessment. But it’s their shimmering and harmonious moments of honesty and vulnerability that are much more a part of the modern hardcore scene thanks to Converge. Some bands only hear the noise on albums like Jane Doe, but these guys were obviously tuned into the heart.
The story behind how Harm’s Way got signed to Deathwish Inc. — run by Converge frontman Jacob Bannon — is an example of what being friendly and outgoing within the scene can get you. When the dudes in Harm’s Way heard Bannon was a fan of their music, they just straight-up e-mailed him asking if he’d like to sign them. By March of 2013, they’d been snapped up. Unity in action.
Portrayal Of Guilt
What Portrayal Of Guilt owe Converge might just simply be the utter madness. On the band’s 2018 album Let Pain Be Your Guide, the Austin, Texas, four-piece give off a convincing air of total collapse that evokes the image of Jacob Bannon at a live show, pacing the stage and spinning his mic like he’s wondering if he’ll see the other side of this night. That sort of truly audible brokenness gives both band an extra bit of outsider status with which they stand out in a packed scene.
Converge’s arch-viciousness often makes it more synonymous with metal than hardcore. But Los Angeles’ Touché Amoré are most definitely a punk band, wiry and stripped down, and yet they brim with that same sense of confusion and powerlessness that Jacob Bannon and Co. did better than anyone. Frontman Jeremy Bolm even ranked his favorite Converge songs for Louder a few years ago. Definitely a standout artist on this list, but one that definitely deserve to be on here.
Supergroup Sect are also one of many brutal, pitch-bllack hardcore bands who have recorded their music with Converge’s Kurt Ballou. But the band also thrive on a gritty, washed-out sense of darkness that Converge epitomized. That dramatic fatalism, very similar to the aesthetic of black metal, is something that Sect believably channel, and that wouldn’t exist without the boys from Salem.
Birds In Row
A novice listening to Birds In Row might not immediately assume they’re French. The Laval three-piece have a twang and a swagger to them that is traditionally American when it’s matched with this sort of steely hardcore. That sound has always been something Converge played with, and with which they most certainly paved the way for these guys (they’ve also been tourmates). It’s honestly perplexing that these guys haven’t recorded an album with Kurt Ballou — but they’re on Deathwish, so it all works out.
Full Of Hell
On the more metallic side of the spectrum, Full Of Hell go especially harsh and cruel with their grind- and sludge-influenced death-worship. But there’s something to the Maryland quartet’s sense of merciless noisiness that connect with Converge’s style. Of course, they also have recorded albums with Kurt Ballou, so their respect and appreciation is pretty on blast, no matter what they play.
Amigo The Devil
Murder-folk artist Amigo The Devil puts his Converge fandom out there — and we mean really, really out there. Singer and guitarist Danny Kiranos has a Jane Doe tattoo on the back of one of his hands. So while his music may sound more like the dulcet tones of an Appalachian murder ballad, it’s pretty obvious Jacob Bannon is his spirit guide.
Though they incorporate a few more lazer sounds than Kurt Ballou and Ben Koller, eclectic Orange County grind crew Seizures definitely owe much to the guys in Converge. More than their frantic guitar tone and esophagus-searing vocals, it’s their rhythm and song structure that seem most tied to Converge’s music, that use of careful accents to move from one part to another without losing momentum. This lends a fun bounce and entertaining drive that both bands certainly benefit from.
On the surface, Conjurer’s pendulous doom metal is a little slow to be associated with most hardcore bands. But one can definitely hear Converge’s influence in the agonized riffs and raw honesty present on their debut album, Mire. If that doesn’t convince you, the fact that Converge are the first name on the list of influences on their Facebook ought to do it.
Year Of The Knife
Though they translate them in their own primal, kinetic fashion, Year Of The Knife share all their major musical virtues with Converge. There’s the full-on harsh vocals, the infectious vocal rhythms, the no-holds-barred approach to the straightedge lifestyle. In fact, bassist Madison Watkins attributes her love of making art to becoming a massive Converge fan and discovering that Jacob Banon created much of their artwork. Proof that the band can inspire more than just sick breakdowns.