Converge's eighth studio album is packed with guest performances by kindred spirits from Massachusetts and beyond. "Effigy," one of four songs on the album that comes in under the two-minute mark, features Steve Brodsky and Adam McGrath of Cave In on guitar and that group's drummer, J.R. Conners, behind the kit. Uffe Cederlund of Disfear takes over lead guitar on "Wishing Well," while Steve Von Till of Neurosis sings on "Cruel Bloom" and Genghis Tron' Mookie Singerman does guest vocals on the seven-minute album closer, "Wretched World." But it's the core group that delivers the most astonishing displays of hardcore fury and progressive musical exploration on Axe to Fall. Opening cut "Dark Horse," propelled by a Disfear-esque riff so insane it'll make you think your CD is playing at the wrong speed, kicks off a breathless sprint that lasts all the way to the doomy, noisy fifth track, "Worms Will Feed." From there, Converge continues to mine the dissonant blend of Agnostic Front and Unsane that has served them so well for years at this point. Though Jacob Bannon's vocals are as indecipherable as ever, this album somehow feels even angrier -- and that rage is apparently more outwardly directed, given track titles like "Slave Driver" and "Wretched World" -- than previous releases like Jane Doe and You Fail Me. Given the furious pace at which they tour, record, and work with their various side bands, it's astonishing that Converge have time to put this much thought into their music instead of just cranking out one more rote album, but Axe to Fall is a big step forward for them.
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AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman