Album Reviews

Album Review: Full Of Hell – Weeping Choir



Release Date: 24th May 2019

Record Label: Relapse Records

For Fans Of: Weekend Nachos, Nails, The Body

Those familiar with Full Of Hell will know how divisive their sound is. Yes bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan aren’t exactly easy listening, but they at least feature some melodic moments and pop hooks right? Full Of Hell balance out their extreme riffing with a healthy dose of noise and shrieks, just to ensure they don’t accidentally expand their fanbase beyond those who enjoy bleeding out the ears.

Ever prolific and eager to redefine extreme music, it has only been two years since the last non-collaborative album from Full Of Hell, the phenomenal Trumpeting Ecstasy, with many hailing it as the best release by the band (and they put out a LOT of records). Due to years of collaborating with experimental artists such as Merzbow and The Body, as well as more ‘traditional’ extreme bands such as Nails or Code Orange, it was felt that Full Of Hell took these experiences and influences to help refine their abrasive mix of grindcore, death metal and noise experimentation – three genres which are tough enough to listen to separately, let alone together. Featuring haunting guest vocals from Nicole Dollanganger (a real highlight of the album), it was proven that not only can darkness and intensity be maintained without the use of screamed vocals and shredded guitars, but that Full Of Hell understand the potential of working with collaborators, and can think outside of the box when it comes to making a grindcore record.

Onto Weeping Choir. With the standard set high with Trumpeting Ecstasy, the four-piece noisemakers were to release their most anticipated album. Luckily for us, they delivered yet again. With Kurt Ballou returning to produce, Weeping Choir is regarded as a companion piece to Trumpeting Ecstasy, with even the artwork mirroring their previous release. While the band have stated that this album has taken parts of all their previous releases, the structure and approach to songwriting bares a strong resemblance to Trumpeting Ecstasy, most likely due to the incredible reception the record received, featuring stronger death metal influences and even some slower, darker passages.

Maintaining the sub-25 minute run time, the band hop to it with the opening two tracks, starting with lead single, the immediate ‘Burning Myrrh’ before following up with the equally urgent ‘Haunted Arches’. Both tracks demonstrate the death metal influence, with almost ever-present blast beats laying the groundwork for the tremolo picking frenzy of guitars. Vocals ricochet from guttural growls to piercing black metal shrieks, providing a healthy contrast and dynamic shift over the frantic rhythm section, with the lyrics being intentionally vague and open to interpretation from the listener (not that you can work out what Dylan Walker is saying anyway).

By the time we reach ‘Rainbow Coil’, the death metal/grindcore takes a back seat in place of experimentation with noise. As their previous album was devoid of noise elements (or at least, very minimal when compared to other releases), the band sought to reintroduce this component of their sound for Weeping Choir. Driven by the sound of machine gun fire, Full Of Hell maintain their intensity even when the instruments take a break. Funny how the three minute breather audiences are given in this grindcore assault is a firing gun? And yet somehow it works.

Due to the surprise (and phenomenal) feature from Nicole Dollanganger on the previous record, audiences could be forgiven for speculating a repeat occurrence on the follow up release. Enter ‘Armory of Obsidian Glass’. Featuring wordless guest vocals from Lingua Ignota over droning distorted guitars (sounds like someone’s been listening to Sunn O)))…), Full Of Hell conjure a haunting atmosphere amongst their chaotic sound. Whereas a guest feature would normally take centre stage during their appearance on a record, Lingua Ignota’s vocals lurk in the background, with moaning and wailing resembling the chanting of a cult during some dark ritual, focusing more on improving the texture and overall ambiance of the track rather than showing off who they managed to feature on their latest. Due to extensive collaborating, one would expect a level of maturity and innovation when it comes to featuring additional artists. The track also provides one of the more shocking moments on the album, as the band actually utilise clean – yes, CLEAN guitar tones on ‘Armory of Obsidian Glass’, in a passage that could be described as ‘fairly consonant’; quite possibly a first for Full Of Hell? Eyes peeled for their next release being post-hardcore/indie rock…

As the album draws to a close, the chaos is ramped back up, with track lengths returning to the normal one minute mark. Penultimate track ‘Ygramul the Many’ starts with the typical blast beat aural assault we’ve come to know and love, but as if they weren’t shocking enough, Full Of Hell unveil a SAXOPHONE frenetically performing as the song falls apart, evoking the likes of Mr. Bungle. Even the album closer provides an additional shock in that the length is just over a minute; not something you expect from the hardcore end of the music spectrum (you save the long one for last, right?).

Despite the intensity and abrasive nature of their music, Full Of Hell have managed to successfully balance death metal, grind and noise, while also incorporating new elements yet seen on their releases. Even at their most frantic, there is still a familiarity to the riffs found on Weeping Choir, rather than a mere onslaught of notes as fast as possible. Full Of Hell is by no means for everybody, even the most hardcore of hardcore fans, but for those who enjoy blood pouring from their ears, you might need to reconsider naming Trumpeting Ecstasy as their best record.

Rating: 9/10

Recommended Tracks: Burning Myrrh, Armory of Obsidian Glass, Ygramul the Many

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