by Ian Feigle (@i_feigle)
Pushing the extremes of extreme music, Full of Hell is metal’s most unclassified act. Ranging from grind to death to black to noise, the band describes itself as East Coast “harsh grinding death” on its Bandcamp page––yet another composite subgenre among the viral tendrils spawned under the metal umbrella. Full of Hell is charred, crusty, chthonic, cryptic, and not totally willing to uphold the strictures of metaldom. They could be the harshest punk band or the most divergent metal band out there, but their force is undeniable. Their fourth full-length album, Weeping Choir, is proof that there a few other acts that can compare to their creative aggression.
Full of Hell bookended their last full length, 2017’s Trumpeting Ecstasy, with two collaborative full-length releases with their tourmates and fellow metal-realm explorers The Body. The band also collaborated with Japanese noise legend Merzbow in 2014 on a self-titled full length. Full of Hell’s discography, spanning 10 years, is laden with split EPs, collaborations, and noise compilations. Despite the vast array of releases to cover, Weeping Choir is able to feel as wide sweeping and parabolic as the band’s discography.
The album opens by pushing the listener down a flight of stairs with “Burning Myrrh,” which blasts and tumbles with drum fills out of the gate. The song collides low and high screams between Full of Hell’s Dylan Walker (vocals/noise) and Alex Hughes (former bassist of Insect Warfare). The shearing sound of Dylan Walker’s far-ranging vocals and featured guests vocalists throughout Weeping Choir are stunning and ungodly. Each song is coughed up by a new demon, turning the shrieking nuns of yore into flames.
Songs like “Haunted Arches,” “Aria of Jeweled Tears,” and “Downward” showcase the forward momentum that can be harnessed in the thrashing and grinding of music’s most extreme genre. “Thundering Hammer” drags along through 8-string-nu-metal-chord verses to a rapid death-from-below chorus, pummeling and diving, shifting and accelerating. The track “Silmaril” chugs with double-kick sixteenths and thrashes out of the grind swamps of Florida.
The range of “metal” covered on the album covers both high-tempo smashers and slow tempo slammers. Weeping Choir’s longest track, “Armory of Obsidian Glass,” shows us that Full of Hell allows itself room to breathe, implementing an eerie choir of background vocals to fill the space between guitarist Spencer Hazard’s down-tempo tonal sludge decay and drummer Dave Bland’s steady yet manic pummeling. The tracks “Angels Gather Here” and “Rainbow Coil” also show Full of Hell’s ability to experiment outside of the strictures of “harsh grinding death” with the percussive sounds of doom-fallen industrialization.
With Weeping Choir, Full of Hell has led listeners out of the winding canyons of metal, punk, and noise to the summits above, showing listeners the back channels in which they have ascended. Recorded with hardcore-icon and recording engineer Kurt Ballou, Weeping Choir wails, grinds, and smashes with clairvoyant and pummeling energy. It is bound to make its mark on the scene, as Full of Hell has made its mark on the blurred boundaries between the territories of extreme music.