Six years ago, Rancid rebooted its career with a second self-titled record, this one much faster and heavier than its previous eponymous effort. Initially, this struck fans familiar with the group's artistic evolution as a pandering, reactionary gesture, but hindsight reveals Rancid was taking a brief respite from eclectic fare, temporarily sacrificing identity for intensity. Rancid's Epitaph labelmate Converge, known for its technical intricacy and genre-defying ambition, follows a similar formula through the first four tracks of No Heroes
. All of the sub-two-minute thrashers stoke the dying fires of old-school hardcore like a flaming meteor igniting wet wood. These tunes mirror the band's straightforward live approach since it became a single-ax quartet after 2001's Jane Doe
. However, the rest of the record sees the band still experimenting with expansiveness. Kurt Ballou repeatedly clones the wheezing-beast riff that powers 'Plaguesâ?�; multitracked guitars appear like military reinforcements. The epic dirge 'Grim Heart/Black Roseâ?� opens with a rare undistorted Ballou salvo and showcases unprecedented vocal clarity from Jacob Bannon, whose delivery usually functions more as high-pitched percussion than a melodic device. These songs confirm that Converge remains devoted to growth, while the early-album blasts (and the post''Grim Heartâ?� adrenaline shot 'Orphanedâ?�) prove it's not too progressive for primal outbursts.