Review Summary: Thinners of the herd.
After several years of releasing great split EP's and one LP, hardcore/noise act Full of Hell have returned with Rudiments of Mutilation, their best effort to date and easily my favorite release of 2013. This album is 25 minutes of unrelenting aggresion that doesn't rely on tired cliches and filler tracks to take up space. Every track earns its placement, and all are equally important to the flow of the album. For example, while the opening track, "Dichotomy", is not my favorite track on the album, "Vessel Deserted" would not be as hard hitting as it is without the introduction that the opening track serves as.
The noise experiments aren't standalone songs anymore like on previous releases (except on Dichotomy). Instead, they combine noise with their organic material in the same songs, and overall the record benefits from it. That's not to say they didn't do that on previous releases, it is just far more prevalent on this record. There are also songs only featuring traditional hardcore instruments only, such as "Coven of the Larynx" and "Indigence and Guilt" (the latter of the two featuring John Caution of Weekend Nachos on guest vocals), which are both fantastic.
While most of the songs are around the 2 minute mark, the longer songs such as "The Lord is My Light" and "Embrace" shine the brightest. These tracks are more experimental in nature and are considerably slower than the rest of the material, adding variety that keeps the record unpredictable and interesting. Something that really impressed me is the way that Full of Hell makes all of these songs flow seamlessly into the next, almost as if they are different movements in one 25 minute song.
The most interesting part of this LP is the vocals/lyrics. Some people are put off by Dylan Walker's vocals and lyrical content, but I think he is the most important part of this band. He uses an extremely wide range of high and low screams, and helps create a strong rhythm in their songs. His lyrics are observations about life and humanity through the eyes of someone who is "bereft of love", and a self described "crippled whelp". While I wouldn't say there is a single cohesive narrative throughout these songs, I would say they all relate to each other. Every song expresses views on topics, such as death, society, and religion. They don't just state facts and leave it at that, though. The lyrics make me question why these things are the way they are. It makes me question what mistakes we have made as a society that makes some people feel as if they have no place in the world, and if we can undo the damage organized religion and various social pressures have caused.
What I love about this album the most is that it actually makes me think about the world around me. Rudiments of Mutilation is not just a 25 minute pasting of various guitar riffs and blast beats; it is a bold artistic statement from a band with a lot to say. It is angry, fast, and unrelenting, but it is also intelligent and meaningful. Hardcore and punk bands too often forget that those genres originated with bands who had a lot important things to say, and that music should mean something, instead of barely reaching beyond the topics of brotherhood and beating the *** out of people. This record is one of the best I have heard in this genre, and the replay value and enjoyment I get from this album makes it something I will still listen to years from now. Full of Hell have thinned the herd with this release, and have reminded me that hardcore and punk can be an incredible vehicle for artistic expression.