Where and how do you even begin to categorize Full of Hell? With a blaspheming hand in every pot the band has taken great pains to ensure no matter what direction they go in on a musical endeavor it’ll be a singularly devastating experience. New album Trumpeting Ecstasy does nothing to refute that, providing a furious assault on the senses that leaves the listener devoid of bodily fluids and stripped of ears and mind.
Finding a core component to the Maryland/Pennsylvania band is difficult: move through their varied discography of splits, collaborations, EPs, and live albums and you’ll hear everything from sludge, grind, and hardcore all the way to blistering death and noise. There’s a distinct crust element that permeates it all, though, starting all the way back with their 2010 EP The Inevitable Fear of Existence and up to their most recent split with Nails last year, a band they share more than a few musical qualities with. But to stop with that comparison is to give Full of Hell short shrift; their ability to tweak their grinding sludge strengths and complement bands like The Body and Japanese noise artist Merzbow is an essential aspect to what makes them work as a unit. Their collaboration with Merzbow in particular shows a band readily able to switch out crust for harsh noise and feedback and those elements combine with an insanely tight death/grind groove that makes Trumpeting Ecstasy work like gangbusters.
“The trees are in misery.” A slowed down, slurred Werner Herzog opens the album before kicking into the fury of “Deluminate,” a rapid fire assault that sets the tone for what’s to come. The production is surprisingly clean allowing the band to show off just how tight they are when riffing at 100 mph. When the majority of the 11 tracks are less than two minutes long it’s hard to find some breathing space, but Full of Hell isn’t afraid to allow a few precious seconds here and to open things up, like the bass and drum break in the last section of “Bound Sphinx” that morphs into a vicious death metal riff. The chorus to “The Cosmic Vein” almost feels like we’re about to get the most accessible Full of Hell to date, but of course that devolves into an angular spazz attack that comes out of nowhere and still completely works in the context of the song.
It’s these out of nowhere moments that make what could have been 24 minutes of pure sonic whiplash stand out more fully. The stunning death metal opening of “Crawling Back to God.” The sludge/horror doom of “Gnawed Flesh” that manages to reach funeral doom levels despite being less than three minutes long. The title track reaches a crescendo of industrial and noise madness that stand in rough opposition to the ethereal vocals of guest artist Nicole Dollanganger (do yourself a favor and check out the great video as well). And finale “At the Cauldron’s Bottom” takes everything that came before and stretches it into a massive six minute exercise in how to take a visceral live experience and translate it to record. The drumming that closes the record is one of the hugest sounds so far in 2017, and it continues to echo after in your blood long after the album stops.
There’s a part of me that wants to classify Trumpeting Ecstasy as the culmination of Full of Hell to date, but last year they put out a split, a live record, and their collaboration with The Body, so this may only be the beginning of another aural attack. I can say it feels like their most fully developed in terms of song construction and sound manipulation, and it’s a crowning blast of noise for the first half of 2017. Let Full of Hell bleed into your mind and relish in the abrasions left behind by this scorcher.