Converge – Petitioning the Empty Sky / When Forever Comes Crashing

Petitioning the Empty Sky / When Forever Comes Crashing

Converge has been around for nearly 15 years. It feels strange saying that out loud for some reason. In these 15 years, the band has amassed a huge catalog of EPs, splits, full-lengths, demos, compilations, etc. These re-issues, courtesy of Equal Vision, make these neo-classics readily available again, but not much else.

First up, Petitioning the Empty Sky. It’s hard to believe that this album is 10 years old. Anyway, this is generally marked as Converge’s first real release. The material previous to this was ok enough, but with Petitioning the Empty Sky, Converge more or less reinvinted the band into the dissonant beast they are today. Compared to the great albums to come, Petitioning the Empty Sky had some serious issues. The songwriting is terribly disjointed, and the recording is definitely flawed. But again, this was the beginning of the Converge we know and love today.

Next up is the legendary When Forever Comes Crashing. This album takes the sonic changes on Petitioning… to a whole new level. This one is much tighter and much more focused. To me, this represents the manifestation of the band’s previously exhibited talent and promise. Their focus leans even greater on the caustic chord phrasings and jarring rhythms. The recordings on both of the releases are improved somewhat, but there is only so much you can do with audio that was recorded 8-10 years ago. The guitars and drums particularly seem to have some added punch.

So, “Where are the extras?” you ask. Well, the most obvious extra are the revamped layouts. However, I definitely prefer the original artwork on When Forever Comes Crashing. Other than that, there are some live tracks on Petitioning… and an alternate version of “Bitter and Then Some” on When Forever... There are also CD-ROM features on both discs. They are “music videos” I suppose, but they are just live footage with the studio audio, so they aren’t that great. In addition, there is a biography of sorts that starts in the liner notes of Petitioning and is continued and concluded in When Forever. I guess that sort of ups the collector value, but there really aren’t enough extras to warrant buying these if you have the originals.

You can’t really go wrong with Converge, but these reissues are sort of disappointing. Converge has been so influencial and prolific that the band is often spoken of in hushed and reverent tones, so I was really expecting something special. The recordings are better, but the layouts and extras just aren’t doing much for me.