Wear Your Wounds – Self Titled (Deathwish Inc, 2017)

Wear Your Wounds is a long gestating solo project in which Converge vocalist Jacob Bannon, explores fresh sonic territory and exposes his throat somewhat with this brace of intimate and disturbing songs. There’s always been raw honesty and moments of emotional vulnerability in Converge’s lyrics but that sensitivity was not so obvious when delivered in Bannon’s scorched vocal style and hidden beneath sheets of noise and howling volume.

Titular track Wear Your Wounds arrives with a melancholic piano melody that picks it’s way gently through the maelstrom of crushing guitars and Bannon’s heavily distorted vocals. Iron Rose feels like A Silver Mt Zion at their most spartan, with Bannon’s impressive host of collaboraters weave together a rich sonic tapestry from a sparse fabric of vocals and piano that wraps you in it’s layers and textures.

Giving Up echoes the despair of The Black Heart Procession in their darkest moments. The ethereal yet volatile Heavy Blood is an exercise in dynamic atmospherics and feels like you are laying on your bed in the dark looking up at the night sky through a glass ceiling as the swirling void opens up before you. Closer, Goodbye, Old Friend is the exposed bone of this record, stripped of noise and distortion, a haunting letter to a fallen comrade. The honesty of the refreshingly simple lyrics carries a heavy emotional punch as the song spirals into the distance.

There’s traces of The Swans DNA evident throughout, not just audibly but also in how Jake’s approach to the work seems to reflect Michael Gira’s uncompromising vision.

Though Wear Your Wounds may not be the screaming metallic hardcore of Jake Bannons’ day job, it is certainly no less intense. Amongst the broken glass of anger and loss there are moments of emotional purity and that emerge from the wreckage like the filthy survivors of some awful catastrophe. Bloody and shaken but still putting one foot in front of the other. Instinct over defeat. Still breathing. Still moving forward. Bannon has crafted an album that feels to me like the audio equivalent of a long dark night of the soul. The nights where it feels like there’s a bowling ball sitting in your guts and the ghosts of every failure, betrayal and disastrous relationship come to visit and whisper at the foot of of your bed. And just as nights like those often lead to revelation, Wear Your Wounds offers us splinters of light in the deep dark, tiny fragments of hope. The understanding that though our scars might be ugly, they also mean that we survived.

Wear Your Wounds is a masterpiece and serves as a poignant reminder, that for many of us, survival is triumph enough.

You can stream it via Metal Injection here.

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