Converge's Jane Doe has been sitting on my "I want to check it out some day" list for several years. Basically since I found out how well-regarded it is by Decibel. Well, since they're on the Decibel Magazine Tour this year, and I'll be seeing that tour tomorrow, I thought it was finally time to familiarize myself.
I don't listen to a lot of hardcore, but my first thought on hearing this was that it sounded a little like the Dillinger Escape Plan. And some of those weird guitar leads early in the record sound similar to stuff System of a Down was doing around the same time period, only this is more batshit insane. So, not bad to start.
Lots of dissonance and hoarse scream/shouts, some short breakdowns. Heavy, bludgeoning. Which is all good, except it's still hardcore, so I have a hard time really appreciating everything about it. The slow, bass-oriented "Hell to Pay" is a nice respite from the almost shrill assault of the music that precedes it. By that I don't mean to say it's too shrill to be enjoyable--far from it, in fact. Tracks like "Homewrecker" and "Thaw" are absolutely great.
Maybe it's not fair to compare this to music that came later. But I'm encountering this 14 years after its release, and to my ears it basically sounds like the Dillinger Escape Plan but without all the sugary pop that counter-balances the hardcore abrasiveness (particularly the post-Miss Machine years). I fucking love what DEP does. This, I can appreciate and enjoy, but not nearly to the same degree. I don't mean to put it down. This is still remarkably enjoyable music. But DEP conditioned me to expect some ridiculous hooks after a dissonant hardcore pummeling, and even the clean-sung parts of the long title track here aren't quite enough to make me love it.
I sense there's a shit-ton more going on here than what I've been able to identify. Which is all well and good, but I don't need to fully analyze everything to tell you how I feel about it. I just can't shake the DEP comparison.
Still, I bet they're going to put on a rad show.
The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars