And It Actually Feels Good
There’s a certain masochism that coincides with listening to metal, particularly its more acerbic varieties. In the categorical classes of doom and stoner, muted breaks and burrowed riffs, while still epically heavy, are recesses from jarring racket. Full of Hell liken themselves to do the exact opposite of this by exhibiting the abrasive characteristics of harsh noise and grindcore. Their first two albums showcase an exploration of these tendencies on their own before a collaborative stint with innovative experimenter Merzbow and sludge masters The Body. What Full of Hell have picked up along the way is loudly displayed on Trumpeting Ecstasy. Picture Phil Spektor’s “Wall of Sound” Motown approach, except for that the wall is an enclosed iron maiden, notes and key changes piercing into the skin like a multiplicity of sharp daggers.
Trumpeting Ecstasy is an assault on the ear drums for all 23 minutes of its runtime, and Full of Hell use every second of it to their advantage. “Deluminate,” an audio clip about misery, pretty much sets the thematic standard for what’s to follow. Vocalist Dylan Walker’s shrill screech immediately hits with full force in this track, helping further prove how well the band know their way around grindcore.
Many might notice an element missing from Trumpeting Ecstasy: the bassist and vocal duality of Brandon Brown, who is no longer with the group. He used to provide the guttural growls that complemented Walker’s squalls. Even without him, Full of Hell manage to maintain the same power throughout the album. They blast through the first seven tracks, not leaving any time to really catch one’s bearings or realize songs are starting and ending.
Guest vocals from dreary metal divinity Aaron Turner (ISIS, Sumac) on “Crawling Back to God” call for the listener’s attention, but it’s the triad of tracks that follow that are the most dynamic on the album.
“Gnawed Flesh,” while still speedy grind in every sense, incorporates deeper tones and a slow dirge breakdown led by Brown’s replacement Sam DiGristine, who on this track alone proves his worth. This demonic sort of vocal play continues into “Ashen Mesh,” where drumming from Dave Bland goes beat-for-beat with the effects and guitar riffs from Spencer Hazard.
The title track is perhaps the most haunting FoH number yet, featuring vocals from Nicole Dollanganger and bass by Kurt Ballou of Converge. Dollanganger’s angelic, childlike croon complements the harsh sonance of the track, particularly just after the one-minute mark, where instruments crash.
Full of Hell may have lulled in their individual output when taking the time to do split albums and EPs with other artists, but their third album on their own is some of the best work they’ve ever done. They’ve clearly learned from their collaborations with older, more experience artists; and it shows.