Album Review: Converge and Chelsea Wolfe - 'Bloodmoon: I'

Converge are a hardcore punk and metal band from Massachusetts. Most famous for their critically acclaimed 2001 release 'Jane Doe', the band has stayed active and consistent since, releasing 5 studio albums. Now comes 'Bloodmoon: I', a much anticipated collaboration with gothic singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe. The Mic's Jake Longhurst shares his thoughts.


Converge have returned, and they’re not messing around. From the get-go this album defies expectations, as the hardcore bruisers have created an album that is an almost complete departure from their signature sound, having evidently taken large influence from Chelsea Wolfe and her whole discography for this album. This does not, however, detract from the album, and instead is an integral part of why the record is so good. The band you know are still there, but with a completely different spin on their usual musical style, and it is so good to see a group who have had such a consistent form suddenly twist on a dime and move in a completely new direction.


"Bannon and Wolfe work off one another, expertly weaving their very different voices together in a cohesive, harmonic manor that oozes venom"

The first track, Blood Moon, is almost eight minutes in length, and there is not a second wasted, as Chelsea Wolfe lets loose her haunting vocals and brings chills across the track, whilst Converge’s Jacob Bannon growls and screams across the dark, ominous instrumental. The song takes us on a journey between some of the rawest music Converge have ever produced, into noise rock and goth-tinged prog metal. This track easily stands alone as a phenomenal new addition to the catalogue of everybody involved.


Track two, Viscera of Men, goes in a very different direction with a much heavier start to the track, however the rumbling bass and aggressive introduction completely bely the rest of the song, which within seconds slows down and expands into something much greater. The song feels like progressive doom, and Wolfe pins it down with an operatic, ghostly performance. Towards the end, I was taken rather by surprise when I heard an orchestral section, that takes the sound from merely being enormous to positively gargantuan - whilst listening I felt thoroughly as if I was in an entirely separate place mentally. I can’t entirely describe how I felt, but it gave me a sense of imperious majesty, as if introducing some sort of great evil figure or being. Chilling, yet utterly entrancing.


Coil opens up with yet another different sound for this album, a slightly sparser sounding introduction, where Bannon and Wolfe work off one another, expertly weaving their very different voices together in a cohesive, harmonic manor that oozes venom, yet also coaxes the listener onwards. The song builds and builds and climaxes in a grand ending, with shreds of goth, symphonic, prog, doom, and even touches into power metal territory vocally, accompanied by some dual guitar work that is at once minimalist yet also looms across the song.


"The next song Tongues Playing Dead is the first that feels recognisable as the old Converge style from the off. The tone feels a bit more caustic, the aggression level is heightened..."

Flower Moon is an altogether more sinister experience than anything else so far on the album, by slowing it down and allowing for yet more different vocal deliveries by the two singers, whilst upping the sound of the bass. The guitars also use some different techniques, and they utilise some bending and bass adjacent riffs that really emphasise the bottom-heavy sound of this song.


The next song Tongues Playing Dead is the first that feels recognisable as the old Converge style from the off. The tone feels a bit more caustic, the aggression level is heightened, and the vocal delivery from Bannon feels much more reminiscent of the Jane Doe era than anything we’ve heard so far. This isn’t 100% consistent through the song, as they still tone down the intensity partially midway through, but there are plenty of moments when they let the heaviness flow on the second half of this song still.


Yet again, we have a different introduction style, and on Lord of Liars it starts out with a nice little riff immediately followed by Chelsea Wolfe’s syrupy voice line, before abruptly changing gear and reverting back to sounding more like Tongues Playing Dead. This dissonant section then shifts gear to go back to Chelsea Wolfe, before reversing once more to the caustic style of before. The tracks are not clunky and disjointed, but slot seamlessly together on record, and create a very oppressive atmosphere that feels like being smothered in sound. This contrasts with the transition into track seven, Failure Forever, with its lone-guitar introduction. This song feels both vocally and melodically like it would be at home on a Dream Theatre record, even if it would need to double or triple in length to be considered for that role.


"This track evolves from the previous one and opens up into a more expansive and abrasive sound, whilst still conserving that mournful feeling expertly."

Scorpion’s Sting starts with an acoustic intro that feels like walking through an empty, barren landscape, and Chelsea Wolfe’s lonesome, plaintive vocals enhance the effect to no end. By using a flute, and minimal electric guitar, with some simple drums underneath, this song creates a completely different soundscape to anything previously heard on the album, whilst also somehow keeping the mood of the rest of the album. This is the best example we’ve been provided so far of Wolfe’s phenomenal singing, and she has absolutely sold the song, convincingly owning the entire track and making it her own. There is a similar emotional response on the next track Daimon, however it does alter course and include some of Jacob Bannon’s vocals with plenty more harshness. This track evolves from the previous one and opens up into a more expansive and abrasive sound, whilst still conserving that mournful feeling expertly.


The penultimate track, Crimson Stone, is a crossover of doom and symphonic metal, with elements of all sorts of other genres, including prog, death, stoner and more. Jacob Bannon’s harsh vocals really boost this track in my eyes. I love Wolfe’s singing but with his harshness contrasting so nicely against the melody I feel like the track moves in a different direction, and is a brilliant way to lead towards the final song on the album. Blood Dawn again starts with Chelsea Wolfe and an acoustic guitar, but by the end it sounds more ominous than anything previous, with a semi chanted section by both vocalists leading up to end of the album.



To sum up this album, it sounds very different to the Converge we are used to, but it is an absolutely excellent addition to their discography, and Chelsea Wolfe’s presence creates some of the best moments on both sides of this record. Without a doubt the highlight for me was the final two minutes of Viscera of Men, however I never felt let down by any of the rest of the music at all, albeit there were some moments I would like to see changed. I think both artists should be extremely proud of what they have made, and if the title is any hint, I shall look forward to further collaboration on what will hopefully be Bloodmoon: II.


Written by: Jake Longhurst

Edited by: Elliot Fox


In article image courtesy of Converge via Facebook. Video Courtesy of Converge, Chelsea Wolfe and Epitaph Records via Youtube.