For years, I wondered why it seemed like people abandoned a band because they put out a new record that didn't blow them away. Back when I read a lot of blogs and hung around a certain message board, people that were "in the know" seemed to praise the hell out of a band because of a certain record, but then beat the hell out of that same band when the follow-up wasn't as earth-shattering or groundbreaking. Fandom was a really questionable sort of thing.
I think my view on this is similar, but I try not to oversell a band onto people. I don't know many people who love ABBA, the Dillinger Escape Plan, and Journey equally, so I'm not about to try to convert those who aren't. I will praise the hell out of stuff that I like, but all bets are off if I am going to praise the next record. I'd prefer to not abandon a band, but sometimes they can get lost in the shuffle of the stuff that is currently rockin' my brain.
So it comes as a surprise to me about how incredible Converge's Axe to Fall is. As great as their last three records are, I wasn't sure I was capable of handling another record of sonic fits and bluesy detours. Well, miraculously, Axe to Fall is another worthy record.
There are some rather noticeable changes right from the start: are those full-on guitar leads I hear in the beginning? Yup. And there's a lot of crazed insanity equally tempered by jazzy blues, especially evident in a song called "Cruel Bloom." Sounding more like late 70s Tom Waits (yes!) in the beginning of the song, I never expected such a brutal and pulverizing band to successfully attempt and pull off such a thing.
So, my love for new Converge records continues, in a year where I found the latest effort by Killswitch Engage a frustrating letdown and the latest effort by Mastodon a record that completely helped me "get" the band. Whether or not this means I'm a Grade-A hipster, that's for other people to say.