Central Pennsylvanian’s Full of Hell have been around for an absolute age (well since 2009) and have popped up on many a supporting bill in the UK (lastly with Immolation earlier this year) amassing a dedicated fanbase and an extensive back catalogue of recorded output including several EPs including collaborations with Japanese noise terrorists Merzbow and sludge metal band The Body. ‘Weeping Choir’ though represents their fourth release proper and their first with new label Relapse, which represents a jump to the big league in extreme music commercial terms, and so the pressure is on to record and produce something memorable…..and fuck me does this deliver on ALL levels.
As a body of work is hard to critique in the traditional sense and thus already marks ‘Weeping Choir’ as something of interest. Full Of Hell have built something of a reputation as somewhat chameleonlike. Their ever-shifting musical styles, swirl like dust from an explosion in a snow globe factory, sticking to your eyeballs and gluing your ears, disorientating the listener with a concussive grenade lobbed into your back pocket. It all starts with ‘Burning Myrrh’ which on the face of it is fairly standard boilerplate death metal with slight ‘Black’ overtones, its good, honest stuff but doesn’t signpost what’s to come as the rest of the album veers like a 1980’s drink driver on the M4 driving back to Maidenhead after a drinking session comprising of twelve pints of Carling Black Label. ‘Rainbow Coil’ starts to introduce dark, distorted samples, like Godflesh’s hard drive drenched in MDMA, as the soundscapes build, and the sound bounces from ear to ear, it’s unsettling as it is magnificent, coming across as the soundtrack to the magnificently dank and dark serial killer movie Seven as scored by Car Bomb.
Things slide progressively down the rabbit hole as the blast beat symphony that is ‘Aria of Jewelled Tears’ segues into the slower ‘Silmarial’ that could be Pig Destroyer’s slightly simple brother that lives in the basement, gorging himself of the flesh of dismembered corpses. It’s an aural nightmare, constructed from your blackest dreams, your primal anguishes, your darkest guilty pleasures and needs. It’s filthy, black, cold hearted, emotionlessly precise, brutal, death/grind/hardcore sample driven manna from the gods. It speeds up and slows down like a tenured porn actor, decanting their putrid sexual leavings over your pillow before taking a shit in your slippers. It’s also no surprise that this is produced by the god of all things foul and heavy, Kurt Ballou (Converge) as he layers on the grime, dirt and spit whilst retaining the heft of gigantean walls of guitars, bass and drums as vocalist and chief samples architect Dylan Walker screams, groans and growls, displaying vocal acrobatics that would rival FNM/Fantomas/Dead Cross legend Mike Patton.
Overall this is a simply stunning album, deifying musical conventions, vaulting as it does between several genres in the space of 16 bars of music. Go buy this album, go see them live, buy their t-shirts and genuflect in the presence of genius. It would strain the conventions and meaning of the word ‘classic’ to indulge myself by labelling ‘Weeping Choir’ as such but its fucking touch and go.
(9.5/10 Nick Griffiths)