This week, the new Converge album, 'Axe to Fall,' leaked online two weeks ahead of its Oct. 20 release date. For everyone who isn't a member of Converge, who haven't released a new album's worth of material in three years, or Metal Sucks scribe Shaun Hand, this was incredible news. And almost immediately, Facebook statuses started hitting the Web, giving the long-awaited album high praise.

Yes, albums leak all the time. Yes, it's wrong to illegally download music. And yes, if you're a true Converge die-hard, downloading the new LP was probably too irresistible for you to pass up. But the Converge leak means much more than just an album hitting the download sites for all to feed on, its creating controversy.

See, although the album did leak more than a week ago, this recent leak, which apparently happened Monday, has been traced back to Hand, who received a watermarked copy of the disc from the label. All us media types get them; they can come in actual CD form, with your name emblazoned across the bottom and a sternly-worded warning about illegal file-sharing, or as downloadable tracks, each one bearing whatever code you'd been given to access the label's media site.

MetalSucks has actually owned up to the leak, and issued a sincere apology about it on their site. The apology comes after Converge pointed the finger at Hand on their Twitter page Oct. 5, saying he was behind the leak. "We would like to formally apologize on behalf of everyone at Metal Sucks for the leak. We take full responsibility," the post reads.

Of course, they didn't leak the album on purpose, and anyone who reads the site regularly can tell you they're some of Converge's biggest supporters. But the leak happened, and if you're a real fan -- of Converge, what they do, what they represent -- and if you have any respect at all for all the hard work that obviously went into this recording, you won't download it. And if you already did, at least go out and buy a physical copy when the album drops Oct. 20.

We don't know who we feel worse for ... Converge or Hand, because this was obviously an unfortunate mistake. And clearly, it raises questions for publicists and record labels about how they promote their releases. It also proves that they've yet to find a fail-proof solution for distributing music to us journos. That said, fans need to support the architects of the songs they can't live without, and trust us...this Converge disc is necessary listening. So, be fair, be honest, and above all, be considerate of the situation, and support the cause. Don't freakin' download the new Converge ... it just isn't right.

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