Converge: Bloodmoon - 1 LP
"We wanted to do something grander than the typical four-piece Converge music." That's Converge vocalist Jacob Bannon talking about the seed of inspiration that eventually bloomed into Bloodmoon: I, the new collaborative album created by the legendary hardcore band alongside dark songstress Chelsea Wolfe, her bandmate/writing partner Ben Chisholm and Cave In vocalist/guitarist Steve Brodsky.
"I've been a fan of Chelsea and Ben's work for some time," Bannon says. "I bought the Apokalypsis record from Aquarius Records in San Francisco, and Ben and I started communicating here and there. He had roots in this world of music, so it started to make sense that we could all work together in some way." "Ben introduced me to Converge when we started playing music together in 2009," Wolfe says. "A couple of years later, we saw that Converge had put Apokalypsis on a year-end list, so we were totally fanning out about that. When they reached out to Ben about performing some Converge songs with new arrangements, I said, ‘I want in on that...' And it seems like they were happy to have me along."
Fast forward to a 2016 European tour and a rapturously received appearance at Roadburn that saw all seven musicians performing revamped Converge material. Overnight, what had started as a mutual admiration society had become one of the most formidable musical constellations in recent memory. "We felt like there was enough energy in the live collaboration to actually create new music together," Converge guitarist and Bloodmoon: I producer Kurt Ballou explains. "It just took a few years to free up the time to get together."
The musicians descended upon Ballou's God City Studios in Salem, Massachusetts, to work on material in late 2019. Future sessions were planned for 2020, but then the pandemic hit. The rest of Bloodmoon: I was recorded remotely, though you'd never know it. "I wanted a record that breathed like a band playing together in a room, even if it wasn't possible during this time period," Ballou says. "It feels like we achieved that." Harrowing and atmospheric, triumphant and melodious, Bloodmoon: I is Converge as you've never heard them before. It's Chelsea Wolfe and Ben Chisholm as you've never heard them before. It's Steve Brodsky as you've almost never heard him before – after all, he was a member of Converge in the late '90s and played bass on 1998's When Forever Comes Crashing.
The more hectic and seemingly Converge-esque material like "Lord of Liars" or the Cave In-like "Failure Forever" quickly veer into unexpected territory as Bannon trades vocal parts with Wolfe on the former and Brodsky on the latter. And even those tracks are outliers on an album that can't be pinned down as the work of any one of its creators. Epic opener "Blood Moon" and the profoundly haunting "Coil" might be the best examples of this. They mark an indelible and climactic collision of artists working at the height of their collective powers.