Wear Your Wounds
7th April 2017 – Deathwish Inc.
01. Wear Your Wounds
02. Giving Up
03. Iron Rose
04. Hard Road To Heaven
05. Best Cry Of Your Life
06. Breaking Point
09. Heavy Blood
10. Goodbye Old Friend
Solo projects can be a cathartic experience, pouring out everything you’ve had built up in a passion play that can certainly make sense to fans of your main endeavour – but might also leave them baffled. Wear Your Wounds has been fifteen years in the making, and with a gestation period that long, you can be sure the record is absolutely dripping with the blood, sweat, and tears poured into it.
Most people will of course know WYW‘s architect Jacob Bannon from metallic hardcore legends Converge, For this release he’s enlisted fellow bandmate Kurt Ballou, alongside members of The Red Chord, Trap Them, and Twitching Tongues. Considering the background of these musicians it’s not a leap to imagine the content of the album – especially once you’ve also considered the title.
The title track opens the record, and is about as ‘Converge’ as the record gets; its stifling distorted guitars and Bannon’s vocals follow a discordant piano intro, cleverly sticking in the knife cleanly and early, before slowly beginning to twist as the album progresses through “Giving Up” and “Iron Rose“, both of which firmly cement the momentum and lamented mission statement of the project at large.
Hammering drums and bright cymbals kick off “Breaking Point” perfectly, which is one of the more uplifting tracks on the record. With that kind of pure intensity post-rock can deliver, it dichotomously provides a series of emotional blows, whilst at the same time continuing a course of upward instrumental momentum – something that in retrospect you can see is a theme throughout WYW. Whilst this might feel formulaic at times, it never fails to deliver a satisfying crescendo.
WYW really comes into its own at “Best Cry Of Your Life“, which as the title suggests feels like a moment of absolute clarity, carried through shoegazey flourishes with Bannon’s vocals buried under layers of instrumentation. If the record embodies anything, it is this; the kind of extreme catharsis that sometimes only music can deliver. Album closer ”Goodbye Old Friend” sees this quality explored in its rawest form; a slowcore lullaby that keeps focus on Bannon alongside a gentle, almost tangibly swaying guitar. Over its lengthy nine-minute run time it offers a sense of release and closure, reflecting on a lifetime of painful experience.
It ultimately puts the album to bed with a sweeping guitar solo, and as a last goodbye, it’s incredibly difficult not to be utterly bowled over by it, and indeed the album as a whole. The subject matter might seem depressing, but its payoff is incredibly uplifting and its journey – and it is a journey; the culmination of a decade and a half of lo-fi recordings and slowly-stewing idea – melts together negativity, but also melts it away; breathing vitality into something that becomes toxic if left inside.
Whilst WYW is self-therapy in its purest form, it never feels unrewarding to the listener and the lyrical content is entirely relatable, and is something that can and should be enjoyed by everyone – not just fans of Converge.