Under The Influence #91: Vainoa on “Axe to Fall” by Converge!

Expanding on the concept behind the “Verge In” sessions that took place at the beginning of 2004 and saw Boston Metalcore heroes Converge collaborate with Cave In on some new material 2009’s “Axe To Fall” saw the band bring in members of Himsa, Neurosis and The Red Chord to name but a few and push the boundaries of their creations. Produced by guitarist Kurt Ballou at his GodCity Studio in Massachusetts gave the band had more artistic freedom and the result is a record with far more wide ranging styles, from the blunt force trauma to Shoegaze and Doom while the solo from ex-Hatebreed guitarist Sean Martin on “Reap What You Sow” is a tip of the hat to Slayer guitarist Kerry King. Critically acclaimed it still received a proportion of negativity over the number of guests and closing cut “Wretched World” which tested some long term fans to breaking point.

Miikka (guitars): “Around mid-00s when I was finishing upper secondary school and only considering to pick up the guitar for the first time, “Jane Doe” by Converge had already set its status as a hardcore punk classic within my small group of friends. One of my first attempts at forming a band actually revolved around the struggle of trying to play Converge songs such as “The Broken Vow” and “Bitter and Then Some” with a friend.

In 2008 an annual music festival in my hometown was hosting Converge. They were mostly playing songs off their album “No Heroes” that had come out two years prior and which I had not listened to much. In midst of the absolute ripper of a show, Kurt started playing the octaver-infused guitar intro of “Plagues” and I remember thinking that “this has to be the longest single note chugging intro I’ve ever fucking heard”. Then the song took off and blew me away along with the rest of the gig, creating a lasting memory. 

A year after that in 2009 Converge released “Axe to Fall”. I was fast to give it a spin recalling the blast I had had at the festival. The massive sounding drums and bass intro of “Dark Horse” would quickly launch the song into the insanity that is the main riff of the piece. A couple of songs into the album I was at awe of the sheer number of madness-inducing riffs and time signatures on this thing. They would just keep on coming. Then the album would climax with the duo of slow pummellings, “Cruel Bloom” and “Wretched World”, first of which I’ve always regarded as the apex point of the album, the second one being its epilogue. 

Out of all the amazing stuff that Converge has put out until today, I still think highest of “Axe to Fall”. The overall sound and songs on this album reverberate in me in an exceptional way.

To bring all this into the context of our band, Vainoa was founded in 2016 by a group of five people out of which only two knew each other beforehand. At that time we actively discussed our individual musical influences and goals to understand each other better and to form a common direction for our ensemble. Our individual tastes branch widely into different genres but the music of Converge remains as our mutual interest. 

When Metal Noise reached out to us about Under The Influence, we didn’t hesitate to take part. Determining our most influential album was also a breeze as we already had discussed the matter years ago – it’s Converge with their album “Axe to Fall”“. 

Riku (vocals/guitars/synths) : “I remember when I was 15 years old my friend had taken a new tattoo and I asked ”what is this, looks so cool!” He said it was Jane Doe tattoo from Converge and ”you should listen to it, check out this and that song”.

I gave those songs a spin, but my first reaction was loathe and confusion. I was like ”who can listen to this kind of noise? This is nonsense”.

Years passed by and I saw that Converge had released a new album called ”Axe to Fall”, and it was hyped everywhere. My friend told me to give it a second chance. And so I did

I put “Dark Horse” on.

The first lick of Newton’s bass was mind blowing, riding forward with Kollers drumming. Then that Ballou’s guitar slide comes in… and after that some maniac guitar lead followed with Bannon shouting… Suddenly I’m shouting ”DARK HORSE RIDE TOWARDS THE LIGHT”. I was sold.

I really fell in love with that band. I felt that this is what metal music should sound like.”

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