Despite having been a fan of Converge for some time, I (like many other listeners) was a bit thrown at first to hear their progression on Jane Doe. While their music had always incorporated and embraced chaotic elements, that record pushed certain boundaries of heavy music farther than they had previously been pushed. Fast forward a few years to the release of You Fail Me. Expectations for this disc were among the highest for any release this year and most fans and critics alike were both excited and curious. The wait is over and while opinions are varied, I personally see the record as an unabashed success. You Fail Me, as an album, takes many of the key stylistic points of Jane Doe and does what that record did not always do: form them into cohesive "songs." The result is a disc that is both extremely listenable, and musically challenging, a work of art that is both immediately accessible and delicately nuanced. While this record is not necessarily a total departure for the group, it would be best if one were to approach this record without the sort of expectations that listeners often bring to an album by a group as established and respected as Converge. Every fan looks to this as compared to his or her favorite release and every critic expects something as potentially groundbreaking as their previous efforts have been. In many ways, You Fail Me fulfills these stipulations, but it doesn't seem that Converge went out of their way to satisfy anyone but themselves and I for one, wouldn't want it any other way. From the fast-paced eruptions of "Drop Out" to the slow drone of "In Her Shadow," this record is a sonic landscape of disappointment and despair. Every song drips in a surprisingly blunt air of utter despondence. The sound of the album complements the lyrical themes remarkably, with a sound unlike any record I've heard before. The drums echo deeply, completely inhabiting the backgrounds of every song, while the bass' thickness and clarity dominates the foreground. The space in between is filled in quite nicely by the always unique guitar work, which has been one of Converge's most constantly impressive qualities, and Jake Bannon's animalistic cries, which have made Converge one of the most instantly identifiable bands in heavy music. The songs of You Fail Me vary in pace and content but aside from two cuts ("First Light" and "In Her Shadow") every song is as primally fierce and musically thick as anything the band has done to date. The major departure then comes not in the sound, but in the construction of more traditional songs around musical themes and guitar riffs. Within the format of the album, the band explores musical variations on a sort of common sound scheme, but always with equal success. On a disc this uniformly good, it is difficult to choose individual standout tracks, but the disc's fourth cut, "Drop Out," was the first track I immediately connected with, anchored by a riff as phenomenally executed as it is written. The disc's title track and its seeming companion piece "In Her Shadow" are the true centerpiece around which the album is built and, as such, probably capture the essence of this disc best. Clocking in at a combined twelve minutes, they also account for over a third of the disc's length. Bottom Line: So, we've got that the record marks a different sort of approach, a bit of the history leading up to its release and the basics of its sound and structure, but what does this all really mean to us as listeners Converge's You Fail Me is a string of what I consider to be some of their best songs to date, tied together by production that juxtaposes depth and proximity to create an album as unique in the annals of heavy music as the band itself. The only real "problem" per se is that, for all its abrasive beauty and creativity, a record like this certainly can't satisfy everyone. While I personally think this record will go down in history as a classic of the genre -- one that Converge has helped to define over the past decade, moreso than many of their other releases -- it will probably also be a highly contested claim. Opinions are opinions and everyone's got theirs, but I can easily place this record above anything else especially "heavy" that's been released thus far this year.