Review Summary: Maryland based grindcore outfit, Full of Hell, collaborates with noise music giant Merzbow, for an album that is more punishing and harrowing than anything Full of Hell has done before.
Maryland based grindcore outfit, Full of Hell, collaborates with noise music giant Merzbow, for an album that is more punishing and harrowing than anything Full of Hell has done before. Fusing grind, harsh noise, and even a bit of sludge metal, Full of Hell and Merzbow create an album to remember for extreme music fans across the board.
The album gets straight to business with Burnt Synapse, a relatively standard slab of brutality for Full of Hell, but with a noticeable haze of harsh noise radiating throughout the entire song (not meaning much, given that the song is less than a minute in total). Dylan Walker's vocals are insane as usual, mixing black metal-esque shrieks with low, guttural growls. Bassist Sam DiGristine aids in vocals with the occasional low growls.
This formula continues for the first three tracks on the album, until we arrive at track four, Blue Litmus, a clear standout. Lasting a little longer than two minutes, this song provides the musicians involved to develop on different sounds instead of simply bludgeoning you repeatedly with a fury of one-minute assaults. The track brings the band to a sludgy despair for the second half of the track, flowing perfectly into the clearly Merzbow focused Raise Thee, Great Wall, Bloody and Terrible.
Besides Dylan's distant shrieks that are no longer in the forefront of the track, this song appears to be mostly the work of Merzbow. Fans who delved into this album looking forward to perhaps a bit more input from the noise legend may find themselves slightly disappointed with what they are hearing. But, fret not, for the self-titled album is accompanied with Sister Fawn, which is nearly a Merzbow solo project. Regardless of the artist's overall input, this track is as harrowing and bleak as all the other music on the album, despite taking an entirely different approach to Full of Hell's fiery grindcore.
After the brief noise inclusion (well, perhaps not brief in comparison the other song's lengths), it's business as usual for the band, with Thrum in the Deep, my personal favorite track on the project. A moderately paced song with a spoken portion of lyrics in the first half, this song is another clear standout. With a minute left in the track, Dylan and Sam trade off vocal duties until the staticky conclusion of the song. Subsequently we are beat into submission once again with Shattered Knife and Mute, two more of the best songs on the album despite being the two shortest and harsh sounding. The latter of the two is easily one of the most off-the-walls grind songs I have ever heard, only being rivaled by Gaza's I Don't Care Where I Go When I Die.
High Fells is next up with what is probably the clearest collaboration between Full of Hell and Merzbow on one track. Trading off between sludge metal and staticky anguish, this song in a way is the most arduous track on the whole project, and the final third of the song calls for only the most determined and eager of head banging. By this point in the project every listener has been fully enveloped in the existential nihility that the two bands have so perfectly portrayed in a sonic offering.
At this point we get Ludjet Av Gud, or, translated, Voice of God. Essentially a second edition of the first noise-first offering on the album, this one is longer (nearly six minutes) and more focused on buildup, with slightly less actual noise played. What this song does buildup to is the final closer of the project, Fawn Heads and Unjoy, at last one final blow to make sure the listener will never again feel a morsel of hope again. There was no better way to end such a challenging and enthralling album than with one final KO in the form of yet another minute long beatdown. The first half of the song being a hardcore-fused grindcore track that momentarily transitions into some horns over what appears to be a noise outro, just before delivering the final blow with more blasting and riffwork that will make you fear for your eardrums.
At the end of this brief project, listeners are left with a unique grindcore release that finds a way to put itself a notch above its contemporaries by incorporating different genres and kicking the brutality level up to eleven. A must-listen for any extreme music fans looking for a slightly different approach to a genre that can at times feel one dimensional.