2. Converge, 'The Dusk in Us'
Few other hardcore bands have matured as gracefully into something bigger and better than what they started as. The band's first album in five years and ninth overall, The Dusk in Us, boasts all the savagery of the quartet's original heyday in the late Nineties but with more drama. Guitarist Kurt Ballou now spaces out his guitar in a way that sets the mood and pummels with metal ferocity, depending on the way frontman Jacob Bannon is shredding his vocal cords at the moment. In "I Can Tell You About Pain," Ballou and his bandmates dole out a feedback-saturated pile driver of a riff as Bannon yowls, "You don't know what my pain feels like," while on the more straightforward goth-rocker "Thousands of Miles Between Us," they all work in concert as Bannon near-croons about coping with death and emotional distance. Grownup and effortless. K.G.