ALBUM REVIEW: Full of Hell diversifies its aural evisceration with ‘Weeping Choir’

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Even without considering the band’s landmark collaboration with Merzbow, Full of Hell embodies boundary-pushing insanity like few others. As the quartet has built on its combination of power electronics, grindcore and black metal, the caustic chaos has yielded mixed results with regard to cohesion. Having recently signed with Relapse Records, Full of Hell injects atmospheric, almost catchy motifs into its fourth LP, Weeping Choir. And the band does this without sacrificing its all-out sensory overload.

Weeping Choir
Full of Hell
Relapse Records, May 10

The pandemonium begins instantly with “Burning Myrrh.” Blistering blast beats, jagged guitar work and inhuman vocals immediately send home all but veteran noise mongers. The unrelenting chaos is almost baffling, with the last 45 seconds devolving into dirge despair—but walls of tremolo add a creeping sense of dread. Full of Hell is still as nasty as ever.

The Cannibal-Corpse-style grooves and gurgling growls of “Simiaril” are simply unstoppable in their bludgeoning assault. Musical pummeling remains central during the harmonized leads and tremolo riffing of “Downward.” These memorable refrains act more as a method to the madness than a respite from the infernal beatdown—a flickering candle in a harrowing maze.

As is customary, Dylan Walker’s shrieks sound like a Nazgûl choking on razor blades. When coupled with his guttural vomiting, it’s hard to imagine a more terrifying approach. The two-pronged vocal attack works wonders on “Haunted Arches,” following the chaotic rhythm changes with a call-and-response structure.

This is also where Spencer Hazard epitomizes Full of Hell’s blackened grind element with demented high-end guitar leads. Similarly, “Aria of Jewled Tears” brings Anaal Nathrakh to mind as machine gun samples transition to riff-happy destruction. Getting past the unabashed hideousness of it all reveals the tightly controlled chaos, a balance Full of Hell perfects time and time again.

As Weeping Choir’s only straight-up noise song, “Rainbow Coil” leaves its mark like a branding iron. Drummer David Bland’s violent feedback stabs and filthy distortion—it’s a lightning-fast performance—was apparently recorded with a wood-chipper.

Hearing Walker scream, “Your head is a radio for speaking to God” on top of this punishment is disconcerting, but it hints at his lyricism within caustic sonics. His imagery is both esoteric and horrific, like that of industrial doom cut “Angels Gather Here.” Hazard’s and Samuel DiGristine’s guitar and bass tone and semi-rhythmic loops recall Full of Hell’s collaborations with The Body—the perfect backdrop for Walker’s haunting depiction: “Gutters swell with the fruit of loose flesh/ The flowering perfume of gored halos.”

Full of Hell shows remarkable musicality at the most harsh points of Weeping Choir, which culminates with “Armory of Obsidian Glass” The seven-minute opus begins with low-end drones akin to Sunn O))) before the central riff drops like an anvil. Walker displays his most demonic tonality to date, as a choral of dissonant voices hovers above the riffs as they crash like putrid waves.

At what seems like the end, Lingua Ignota’s spellbinding voice emerges from the filth. Her harmonious passion leads the band into an overwhelming catharsis of double-bass and possibly the first followable chord progression of the band’s career. It’s not only the emotional pinnacle of the album, but arguably the band’s entire career.

Unlike many grindcore bands, Full of Hell maintains interest over 25 minutes due to its stylistic diversity. The appropriately named “Thundering Hammers” will send hardcore kids into a frenzy with its thuggish groove and sludgy strains, while the fretboard agility on “Ygramul the Many” evokes melodeath legends At The Gates. Though joined at the hip by brutality, there’s distinction to be found under the excruciating exterior.

Even “Cellar of Doors,” a by-the-books chug-and-blast romp, closes out the album without repeating the previous numbers. Full of Hell is still raw and violent to the absolute extreme, and this album proves they refine without compromising. Weeping Choir’s diversity and cohesion imparts convincing artistry to its no-frills battery.

Follow editor Max Heilman at Twitter.com/madmaxx1995 and Instagram.com/maxlikessound.

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