Review: Full of Hell – Trumpeting Ecstasy

When looking at the album art for Trumpeting Ecstasy, the third official release from up-and-coming grindcore act Full of Hell (fifth if you count their collaborative efforts with Merzbow and The Body), it’s hard not to get drawn in. The artwork alone invites a great deal of curiosity: the band’s logo in the corner spawning all manner of deformed tendrils, the black and white image of a nun with no face, and the trails of fire that are bursting out from where her face once was. What the listener is promised and sold is a dark, foreboding, relentless assault on the senses, and the opening of the album certainly reinforces that initial suggestion.

The intro track “Deluminate” welcomes the listener with a sample of a Werner Herzog monologue from the documentary Burden of Dreams regarding the misery of the world around him. You’re then hit with a short but relentless sonic assault of dissonant instrumentation swirling into a pummeling wall of noise: meaty dissonant guitar riffs, heavy pounding blastbeats, and the alternating shrieked/guttural vocals of Dylan Walker. And this is only the beginning. The album is a short listen, much like most of the genre (clocking in at approximately 23 minutes), but at no moment does the music onslaught ever let up.

Veteran fans of the genre will find plenty to satisfy themselves on this release, as they are beaten down with shotgun blasts of pure white-hot fury from song to song. Full of Hell demonstrates quite a few creative tendencies on par with their contemporaries in both grindcore and the rest of the current extreme metal landscape. Songs like “Ashen Mesh” and “Branches of Yew” demonstrate the genre in its purest form, existing to attack every one of your senses at every single second. Dylan Walker’s vocals venture wildly between piercing high-end shrieks reminiscent of Anaal Nathrakh and incredibly deep guttural low-end growls much like Aborted or early Whitechapel.  They provide the essential foundation for the brutality of the album to carry itself on.

Even though the album is centered on unfiltered intensity, there’s also some considerably excellent songwriting chops at play here. Songs like “The Cosmic Vein” has some very hard-hitting riffs that eventually give way to tremolo guitars in the back half, which give a great opening for the guttural vocals to really shine. “Gnawed Flesh” has a great dichotomy of a fast grinding first half and a much slower doom-like second half. And one of the standout cuts on the record is “Crawling Back to God,” which opens with a sample of The Exorcist’s opening monologue saturated in digital noise before delivering some incredibly tight riffs and grooves in a similar fashion to 2010s-era Pig Destroyer.

While the album has a lot of hallmarks of grindcore music, it also demonstrates several unique songwriting ticks that, similar to their prior efforts, help the band stand out amidst their contemporaries. Drawing on prior releases (especially their Merzbow collaboration), much of the album is coated wall-to-wall in digitized noise, present in areas like the speech samples in “Crawling Back To God” and “Bound Sphinx” as well as the intros and outros of many other tracks present. The noise aspects are used to their best effect in the album’s most standout tune, the title track. A much slower and doom-influenced tune than the rest, the song is a persistent rumbling of hazy bubbling bass noise, combined with ominous and haunting female vocals and a minimal-but-pounding and loud drum beat. Another great unconventional moment shows up on “Fractured Quartz” which, at one point, features the tortured dissonant sound of wailing clean vocals buried in the musical storm. Special attention must also be paid to the ending track “At The Cauldron’s Bottom,” where the furious grind of the first minute and a half slowly gives way to a ritualistic slow groove, and the music builds and builds as the instruments fade into the background leaving only the massive sound of pounding drums. You’re left feeling as if the song itself is lowering you to the bottom of a cauldron, surrounded by dark entities that are musically celebrating the end of your life. It’s one hell of an album closer.

Trumpeting Ecstasy is an album that absolutely should not be passed up on at all. There’s enough here to satisfy the most devoted and hardened of extreme metal/grindcore fans, while the band brings enough unique traits and creative ticks to keep the material a cut above the rest, easily demonstrating why they are one of the most exciting and engaging bands in the current metal scene. As cliché a turn of phrase this may be, the artwork is truth in advertising: this record will absolutely melt your face off.

Verdict: Buy it. Listen to it three times a day until you get whiplash from headbanging too much.

Trumpeting Ecstasy is available from Profound Lore Records on CD, vinyl, digital download, and streaming services. 

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