The loudest, most gruesome, abrasive, ugliest friend you’ll ever love
Jane (John) Doe is often the name given to a body of a person who has no identity. This isn’t an album about one person, this album isn’t about a single relationship you’ve had with someone, romantic or platonic. This album is the anonymity of everyone who used to be in your life. The best friend you don’t talk to anymore because you moved away from home and your interests just don’t align anymore. The best friend that is just a stranger among people now, just a familiar face. Or the love of your life, the person who you’d give up anything for, loved more than anything, fell for them. A break up happens and they once again fade into the anonymity, time passes and you don’t know them anymore.
Why am I going into a record review talking about fading relationships? Well, because this is the soundtrack to all of those sleepless nights, the tear soaked pillows, and the times when you needed someone more than anything yet you had no one. This is the loudest, most gruesome, abrasive, ugliest friend you’ll ever love. This record is the middle school bully that beats you up every day but slowly becomes your best friend. And once you let this record in, and take it for all that its worth - be vulnerable - you’ll be rewarded. More than anything, this record is hope. Comfort in knowing that through heartbreak and depression, you aren’t alone, and here is your soundtrack.
The first track ‘Concubine’ opens with a haunting distorted guitar riff that is joined by sporadic drums to lead up to the first real introduction to the record. The album explodes and the listener gets to hear the tortured, piercing, harsh, and downright scary vocals delivered by Jacob Bannon. The vocals are the hardest part of Jane Doe that a listener has to digest. Musically Converge is incredible. Playing varying styles of hardcore punk, metal, and grind, all at blistering pace. But vocally you can understand maybe 10 words on the whole record. Now you might be saying to yourself, how can you get so connected to a record, or even know what it’s about if you can’t understand any of the vocals? Well the answer is simple, THAT’S THE POINT. This isn’t Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, this isn’t The Cure’s Disintegration, this is the ugly side of love. When you are so angry, so hurt, that you can’t quite find the words to describe your feelings, this record encapsulates this. So yes, the vocals sound like a jaguar screeching or something, but it’s the sound of ugly, putrid, abrasive.
Track by track Converge showcases pulsating blast beats behind metallic riffs and pulsing bass lines. The 4th track ‘Hell to Pay’ finally gives the listener a breather, with a slow, sludgy, dreary, bass and guitar line that slowly builds into a wall of static as the song transitions frantically into ‘Homewrecker.’ This is the listener’s first chance of understanding a phrase in a song: “No love, No hope” is shouted in a purposeful manner that lets you know how bad Jacob Bannon got his heart broken. The album continues with ferocity and blistering speeds with songs such as ‘The Broken Vow’ and ‘Bitter and Then Some’, the latter of the two, Bannon brokenly chants “I’ll take my love to the grave” over and over. Converge also showcases a dreary atmosphere during the song ‘Phoenix in Flight.’
All of these songs, as amazing as they are musically and lyrically, are just setting the stage for the final act. The title track ‘Jane Doe’ is 11 minutes and 34 seconds of enormity that brings this ugly beast of a record to a conclusion. Moderately paced, this song highlights vocal delivery more than anything and as the song shifts from thunderous percussion and guitars to a single clean guitar near the 7 minute mark, the listener is most likely drained. This is reflected in the song. The reflection of giving up, letting go, and knowing even though the pain will be still there, that’s okay. And as Bannon screams the last line over and over, the album fades into static, just as it started.
Lost in you like Saturday nights
Searching the streets with bedroom eyes
Just dying to be saved
Run on girl, run on
The sound of heartbreak isn’t beautiful, it’s not supposed to be. It’s raw, unforgiving, and painful. But when all is said and done, you can take comfort and solace in knowing that you aren’t alone. This record represents all of that. So take it in, let it scare you, it will always be there when you are ready.
Run on girl, run on.
by Andy Wilcox