Fifteen years after Converge emerged with their debut full length `Halo in a Haystack' they return with their seventh album `Axe to Fall' after a three year break, and it is a breathless and intense offering. It opens with `Dark Horse' which perfectly balances their various hardcore punk and metal sensibilities. The riff is one of the best examples of its type you will hear this year. Elsewhere on the album `Effigy' demonstrates some diverse and aggressive riffs, `Reap What You Sow' dives from desperate crescendos to utter delirium and `Wishing Well' balances typically intricate drums with repeating riffs and a strong vocal line. `Damages' is a particularly malicious track with a calculated opening before breaking with astonishing aggression into the main riff. The only drop in intensity comes in the last two tracks after the monstrous savagery of `Slave Driver'. `Cruel Bloom' is like a nightmare hymn and `Wretched World' is full of subtly building atmosphere. The overall result is something truly terrifying and exhilarating.