Full of Hell have been quite busy since dropping their excellent 2017 release Trumpeting Ecstasy. In addition to their 2nd full-length collaborative record with The Body and a new split release with Intensive Care, the group announced last year that they had signed with the ever-popular Relapse Records. While this is an expected move given the band’s ever-rising popularity within extreme metal, it also raises the expectations quite a bit as they’re now sharing a label with some of the foremost bands in grind music, including genre heavyweights Pig Destroyer. Naturally, Full of Hell is expected to bring the full force of their crushing brittle riffs and pummeling drum beats to their newest project Weeping Choir, and unsurprisingly it absolutely succeeds every bit as well as Trumpeting Ecstasy did.
In many ways, Full of Hell preserve many of the core stylistic traits of their previous record, as that album and this new project are considered a musical brother/sister pair. The album rips right out of the gate with “Burning Myrrh”, which provides a familiar sense of unbridled chaos, with furious blastbeats and ride cymbal abuse, low-end tremolo guitar riffs, and the furious high screeches and earth-shaking guttural growls of vocalist Dylan Walker. While these tried and true elements still stick around from last time, there’s some noticeable changes here and there, with one of the most immediately striking being in the production. Kurt Ballou returns to handle production duties, switching up the style and sound ever so slightly. While both records saturate the soundscape and assault the listener with walls of vicious noise, Trumpeting Ecstasy had a noticeable focus on concentrated guitar tones and a generally cleaner punchier instrumental vibe… relatively speaking. Meanwhile, Weeping Choir pulls back on this a tad and really lets a bubbling muddy sound take over the experience.
This is quite noticeable with a lot of the tremolo riffs and guitar melodies in songs like “Haunted Arches” where they get really muddy and blur together into an appropriately hellish sonic storm. More of the grindcore elements are felt through the chaotic and often somewhat loose-feeling drum rhythms, such as on “Silmaril” which switches the kick rhythms rapidly between 16th-note runs and triplet 32nd-notes maintaining a menacing groove throughout. The track heavily invokes vibes similar to songs like “Ashen Mesh” from Trumpeting Ecstasy, especially when the song moves into punk-like d-beats. The album closer “Cellar of Doors” constantly pounds and grooves on the drums as it switches between blastbeats and even some 6/8 rhythms. Similar grooves and d-beat elements exist within the flurry of “Burning Myrrh”, and songs like “Aria of Jeweled Tears” use the flurry of triplet blastbeats to great effect.
While the more death metal side of the band’s sounds is present throughout, especially heard in how the guitars and drums will line up in succinct rhythmic syncopations within tracks like “Ygramul The Many” and “Thundering Hammers”, Full of Hell also bring in significantly more of their experimental noise/drone side into the mix. “Rainbow Coil” is a deliberately tuneless wall of noise driven by synthetic squealing and vocal growling as the song is punctuated by bursts of rapid drum fills that blow out the sound even further. “Downward” utilizes a lot of off-kilter guitar progressions playing against shifting normal/triplet blastbeats, and the song is topped off with a more loose rhythmic digression near the end, with the drums played in a way that echoes the stylings of KEN Mode more than anything else. “Angels Gather Here” opens with heavily distorted feedback that leads into a slow menacing buildup on the drums, pounding the toms as a distorted bassline blows out the mix into walls of noise. The song is littered with heavily industrial elements that call to mind their work with The Body or even their labelmates Author & Punisher.
Perhaps the most experimental standout on the record is the nearly 7-minute mid-point in the form of “Armory of Obsidian Glass.” The song opens with a droning guitar distortion that builds for a minute before the drums enter with a slow, unusual set of rhythmic accentuations. As the vocals growl along, coated in heavy amounts of echoes, the song is complimented by more melodic vocals courtesy of Kristyn Hayter, known for her work as Lingua Ignota. Her contributions add an unusually melancholic vibe to the song almost akin to the more sorrowful tracks from bands like Cult Leader, a feeling that continues even as the song eventually ramps up to a more typical grinding set of atonal chord progressions, tremolos, and rapid drum fills.
Weeping Choir is yet another excellently brutal record from Full of Hell, one that finds an excellent balance between the many ideas that embody their career as a whole. The album brings back much of the more noise-oriented songwriting tendencies that characterized their albums and collaborations, incorporates even more droning elements and experimental elements than before, and manages to maintain all of this in discordant harmony with the grindcore and death metal elements that form the bulk of such hellish experiences. The band is as on top of their game as always, making this a metal experience that should not be missed.
Verdict: buy it. Full of Hell remain as full of burning fury and aggression as they’ve always been.
Weeping Choir is available from Relapse Records on CD, vinyl, digital download, and streaming services.
[Note: a copy of the album was provided by Relapse Records for the purpose of this review.]