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Converge - Petitioning the Empty Sky Review
by Mark Hensch
Exploding from the Boston, Massachusetts area in 1990 like the rumor of grim witchcraft, I have always found myself horribly enchanted with the frantic yet undefined insanity embodied by Converge. As many long-time heavy music fans (myself included) are quick to point out, today's underground extreme music genre is littered with enough hardcore/metalcore acts to fill an entire country, and yet with all those bands few of them hold any real talent or staying power. As much as some newer critics of the metalcore movement might be quick to point out that this music blatantly sucks, any person who knows Converge well can say that metalcore once represented unbridled creative experimenting and limitless ideas for progression.

The (in my opinion) classic Petitioning the Empty Sky album is a must for anyone looking for viscera-ripping metalcore the way the masters do it. Released by Ferret in early 1996, the album was later scooped up by Equal Vision Records, whom are reissuing this version, a revamped beast with new tracks, simply wicked artwork from Aaron Turner of ISIS, and the best part of all, in fully remastered and speaker-shaking, brand new, chaotic sound.

Simply put, few I've enjoyed few re-releases as much as PTES. The artwork is phenomenal and twisted, almost in a morbidly surreal manner, and it really stands out in a record collection. Despite this nice touch, what really shines is the music of course. You wanna hear what damn good innovative music sounds like? Try a remastered version of the wholly deranged opener, "The Saddest Day," a rabid dog frothing with mathy chords, full-blown hardcore riffing with a metal tinge, catchy breakdowns, spittle-streaming screams, and a squelching solo that blazes like a forest fire started in a patch of dead trees. What follows is the skull-stomping "Forsaken," the melancholic rocker "Albatross," and the moody bastard song "Dead," which will leave one gasping for breath or every bit as lifeless as the title suggests.

The unholy song "Shingles" is a real mind-blower indeed, and the old-fashioned hardcore punk throwback "Buried but Breathing" is a catchy yet solid breather leading to more raging fare. The oddly serene yet still insane tune "Farewell Note to This City" is a mild breather before my one of favorites, the cosmic explosion that is "Color Me Blood Red." I'd love to see a pit or two for this monster, and Jacob Bannon shouldn't be able to talk for a couple years after making a song this freaking headspinning. The extras are piled on by now as fans old and new get live versions of "For You," "Antithesis," and "Homesong." It is amazing how awesome these tracks sound live, especially "Antithesis" and "Homesong." Topping it off is a simply frightening (in a good way) alternate version of "Love as Arson."

All I can left saying in my gibbering, mind-blown voice, is "wow wow wow." As a Converge fan, I eagerly awaited hearing all the old stuff polished to a finite sheen and brought out to blind my awed eyes. And for the record, this reissue does just that. Equal Vision should be patting themselves on the back; rarely does a reissue have such solid additions, changes, and sound tweaking as this.

If you're new to the Converge cult, I recommend starting here as things are a bit more technical than say You Fail Me. It might not be Jane Doe level insanity, but hearing these songs a bit cleaner now gives them a raw and animalistic energy not even the most technical songs can generate. A must have for any fan of heavy, loud, crazy, bloody, and simply spastic music.

CD Info and Links

Converge - Petitioning the Empty Sky

Label:Equal Vision

Track Listing:
1. The Saddest Day
2. Forsaken
3. Albatross
4. Dead
5. Shingles
6. Buried but Breathing
7. Farewell Note to This City
8. Color Me Blood Red
9. For You (live)
10. Antithesis (live)
11. Homesong (live)
12. Love as Arson (an alternate version)

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