New England juggernaut Converge are bona fide hardcore royalty with at least one all-time classic, 2001’s Jane Doe, to their name, along with a legacy of adventurous, forward-thinking heavy music. But the band members have never been content with just the one creative outlet, no matter how trailblazing and revered it might be. Frontman Jacob Bannon is also the co-founder of taste-making record label Deathwish Inc. Guitarist Kurt Ballou is also a coveted producer and engineer, working out of his own GodCity Studio. Then there are all the side projects that have grown like gnarled limbs out of Converge. There are many — below are just five of our favorites.
The newest Converge side project, Umbra Vitae might also be the heaviest. Fronted by Bannon, the death-metal supergroup — which hails Stockholm’s nastiest, from Entombed to Dismember — also features current and former members of Hatebreed, the Red Chord, Job for a Cowboy, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, Stomach Earth and more. To say that it hits harder than the sum of its parts is a major understatement. Check out their just-released debut LP, Shadow of Life, ASAP.
Wear Your Wounds
On the other side of the coin is Bannon’s Wear Your Wounds. Initially a solo project, WYW has since evolved into a full-fledged band featuring many of the same players as Umbra Vitae. But in stark contrast to that band’s ferocious death metal, this group indulges the Converge singer’s shoegazing post-rock inclinations, providing a much-needed respite from his more characteristic mosh-pit fodder.
Old Man Gloom
Converge bassist Nate Newton figures large in this long-running sludge-noise outfit, which also includes former ISIS/current SUMAC frontman Aaron Turner and Cave In’s Stephen Brodsky (also a former Converge member). The latter stepped into the fold following the tragic death of his Cave In bandmate Caleb Scofield, who was a founding cornerstone of Old Man Gloom.
Newton takes center stage as the frontman of Doomriders, a rip-roaring stoner-metal crew with an obvious passion for Danzig. Evil Elvis has returned the sentiment, taking the band out on tour with him, where they’ve been able to live out their Danzig-worshipping dreams by playing such reverent homages as “Come Alive” on the same stage as their hero.
Brodsky intersects with his former band, Converge, again in Mutoid Man, which features the inimitable drumming talents of Ben Koller — about whom a whole separate list of side projects could be written, from All Pigs Must Die to Killer Be Killed. Mutoid specialize in an unusual fusion of knuckle-dragging hard rock and brainiac prog that’s captivating, sometimes confusing, but always fun.