CONVERGE albums ranked, from worst to best | Revolver

CONVERGE albums ranked, from worst to best

A critical look at the hardcore trailblazer's essential catalog
Converge Live 2016 Getty  PYMCA/Avalon/UIG via Getty Images), PYMCA/Avalon/UIG via Getty Images
photograph by PYMCA/Avalon/UIG via Getty Images

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Converge are a world unto themselves. They're one of the first names anyone mentions while trying to sum up "metalcore" in a few words. They're one of the most influential heavy bands of the last two decades. The Jane Doe cover art has created one of the most iconic T-shirts in underground rock music. And crucially, Converge as an entity is bigger than the sum of its parts.

Frontman Jacob Bannon is an in-demand visual artist who also co-owns the prolific Deathwish Inc. label, Kurt Ballou has built up a formidable production career with his own GodCity Studios, and all four Converge members have spread their wings in myriad side projects — especially bassist Nate Newton and drummer Ben Koller, who've collectively played in Cave In, Old Man Gloom, Mutoid Man, Killer Be Killed and All Pigs Must Die, among other bands.

But at this center of this veritable heavy-music universe is Converge, and the mighty 10-album discography they've amassed since initially forming way back in 1990. Since then, they've evolved from scrappy metallic hardcore mutts into perhaps the foremost metalcore machine, and they've spent the last decade and a half squeezing and bending the genre they helped codify into creative new shapes and forms.

Below, see our definitive ranking of every Converge record — so far — from worst to best.

10. Halo in a Haystack

Though Converge's debut album is their weakest offering, Halo in a Haystack captures an essential moment in time when certain strains of hardcore began mutating into metalcore. Tracks like "Two Day Romance" were almost 10 years ahead of their time in how they combine highly emotional, vulnerable vocal performances with guitarwork that's both brutal and melodic.

The mix on Halo in a Haystack isn't great, and Jacob Bannon's vocals weren't yet fully formed, but Kurt Ballou's virtuosic guitarwork steals the show. It was apparent from jump that Ballou was a superior axman, and his riffage here set the foundation that Converge would build up, skyscraper-like, in the years to come.

9. When Forever Comes Crashing

When Forever Comes Crashing would've been one of Converge's greatest albums if each track had maintained the insanity of its opener. "My Unsaid Everything" is a snapshot of everything Converge would accomplish on Jane Doe, and it remains a near-perfect song in the band's frenetic catalog.

"The High Cost of Playing God" and "Conduit" are also vicious pieces of hig-art metalcore, but When Forever Comes Crashing ultimately suffers because Converge hadn't perfected their brooding, slow-paced tracks just yet.

Even so, the album remains vastly underrated by fans who focus disproportionately on Converge's 21st century works.

8. No Heroes

No Heroes is a fucking ferocious and unrelenting album, but that's about it. The arrangements don't stand out quite like they did on Jane Doe or You Fail Me, and it lacks the experimental, multi-tempo mastery of Axe to Fall or All We Love We Leave Behind.

Converge's greatest strength is their ability to sound like no other band on earth while being essentially genreless within the hardcore and metalcore space. No Heroes, released in 2006, is an awesome modern hardcore album, but it lacks the tortured-artist-meets-mad-scientist edge that catapulted Converge into the hall of fame.

7. Petitioning the Empty Sky

Converge truly became Converge on Petitioning the Empty Sky. From the first dissonant notes of "The Saddest Day," it was undeniable that a new extreme formula had been discovered, blending hardcore and extreme metal together with an ingenious, progressive, chaotic twist.

"The Saddest Day" is what a hungry band sounds like — saying "fuck it" to the status quo of their scene and freely experimenting with every dynamic they could conjure up. The rest of the hardcore-centric Petitioning the Empty Sky is the very best of Nineties-era Converge, but no other track competes with the elevated status of "The Saddest Day." Frankly, few Converge cuts ever have.

6. Bloodmoon: I

It feels a little silly to compare Bloodmoon: I to the rest of Converge's discography. The 2021 post-metal collaboration with Chelsea Wolfe and Cave In's Stephen Brodsky almost feels like a distinct musical project, and its effect on Converge's future works has yet to be determined.

It is beautiful, though. Like, really beautiful! Bloodmoon: I is, without a doubt, an extremely complete and well-executed work, and it brings out the best of all its collaborators — evoking a similar feel to when Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle collaborated, or when Cult of Luna teamed with Julie Christmas for Mariner.

It's certainly one of Converge's most ambitious albums, but it doesn't quite reach the same highs that several of their other more recent LP's have.

5. The Dusk in Us

Another wildly emotional and devastating entry in the Converge canon, The Dusk in Us is a looking glass into human pain. Jacob Bannon delivered one of his cleanest vocal performances throughout Converge's ninth full-lengths, while the band's air-tight instrumental section ventured deep into off-beat leads.

The Dusk in Us is a great album from the visionary 'core veterans, with its only weaknesses being that it doesn't necessarily cover new ground or deliver many instant-classic riffs.

Still, with cuts like "I Can Tell You About Pain" and "A Single Tear," it resonates as one of Converge's most vulnerable and cathartic listens.

4. You Fail Me

Ballou did a beautifully disgusting job on producing this one. His guitar tone is both beefy and filth-ridden, setting a bar in 2004 that many hardcore bands have still been attempting to clear over the last 20 years.

You Fail Me stands as one of Converge's most violent and frantic records, hitting all the right notes for hardcore aficionados while also appealing to grindcore and extreme-metal fiends. "Eagles Become Vultures" features one of the greatest drum intros of all time, while "Heartless" opens with one of Converge's most perfect sonic storms.

The mid-tempo "You Fail Me" is endlessly transfixing, but the biggest strengths of the Jane Doe follow-up are found in its heaviest moments.

3. Axe to Fall

Ben Koller is an absolute unit. Remember the first time you heard "Dark Horse"? The "holy shit" moment still resonates on every subsequent listen, as the quickfire drumming kicks off perhaps the strongest A-side of Converge's career thus far.

The punchy riffs in "Reap What You Sow" and "Effigy" make for not a dull moment, and the slimy "Worms Will Feed" is certainly one of the best slow-paced Converge cuts of their 2000s catalog.

The endless replayability of the first half of Axe to Fall casts somewhat of a shadow on Side B, but overall, Axe to Fall was a mighty return to form for the legendary band after the less-than-great No Heroes.

2. All We Love We Leave Behind

There's a reason All We Love We Leave Behind is Bannon's favorite Converge album. Musically, it's the band's most surgically precise work, balancing their trademark chaos with unbelievable skill on cuts like "Tender Abuse" and "Sparrow's Fall."

The consistency throughout All We Love... is also a feat to marvel at. Almost all 14 tracks feature a giant, memorable riff, and the slow-paced songs are the best of Converge's career. "Coral Blue" is legitimately in contention for the album's top track, and that's no small feat next to "Sadness Comes Home" and "All We Love We Leave Behind."

Every member of the band is operating at full capacity throughout All We Love..., so only a genre-defining masterpiece could ever best this opus of theirs.

1. Jane Doe

Put it in the Library of Congress.

In the history of heavy music, there are few album openers that compare to the one-two punch of "Concubine" and "Fault and Fracture." After the absolute perfection of those first four minutes, Jane Doe continues to batter the listener with absolutely unhinged extremity.

Jacob Bannon sounds like a rabid animal as some of the most challenging yet endlessly addictive music blares from Converge's instruments. Like the Dillinger Escape Plan's Calculating Infinity, Jane Doe succeeds at an almost unmatchable level — the lightning of perfecting your own genre does not strike twice.

To this day, Jane Doe remains perhaps the most important and influential metalcore album of the 2000s, helping set in motion a scene that's become a venerable pillar of heavy music in the two decades since.