The end is here.
The trumpets blew with ecstasy, but the choir is weeping in fear. No escape. No safety. Only the end of all things.
It’s been just over two years since Maryland based death/grind/noise/pure Sonic aggression project Full of Hell released their critically acclaimed output, Trumpeting Ecstasy, and the band is back and angrier than ever. Going into this review and listening to Weeping Choir for the first time, my expectations were already insanely high. I am of the opinion that Full of Hell get better with each release, and this is absolutely no exception. Full of experimentation, noise, static, and an absurdly chaotic atmosphere, Weeping Choir has officially set the new golden standard for not just grindcore, but extreme metal as a whole.
To this writer, there are two true marks of a flawless record: instantly hooking the listener, and constantly surprising the listener with “oh shit!” moments. Full of Hell, yet again, have hit both marks with pinpoint precision. The album opener, “Burning Myrrh”, is a perfect distillation of the band’s brand of brutal, blasting, blistering grind. Equal parts Amber Mote in the Black Vault and Trumpeting Ecstasy, the track is two minutes of absolute fury. Kicking off the record with blast beats and enough distortion to make an elephant’s head explode, the track perfectly sets the mood for the rest of the album. While it is very much Full of Hell at the core (heh), there’s a tangible blackened death feel to it that sets it apart from anything else in the genre.
As the fires grow, so does their sorrow.
From start to finish, drummer Dave Bland delivers a devastating and downright destructive demonstration of his technical prowess. Whether it’s the machine gun fire opening of “Aria of Jeweled Tears” or the absolutely mesmerizing start-stop frenzy of speed in album closer “Cellar of Doors”, Bland defies his namesake to give a performance that rivals even legends like Pete Sandoval and Gene Hoglan. Where he’s brutal and relentless in tracks like “Thundering Hammers” and “Rainbow Coil”, he is deliberate and hard-hitting on tracks with a more atmospheric approach, as shown in grim detail on my personal favorite track, “Armory of Obsidian Glass”.
Hear them, the weeping choir, the portent of the end of the world.
Assisting Bland on the eleven evil tracks of the record are guitarist Spencer Hazard and bassist/vocalist Sam DiGristine. If Bland is the first wave of destruction of this world, then Hazard and DiGristine are the prophets that follow, warning anyone who will listen of their inevitable doom. For some, bass isn’t an important factor in Grindcore. DiGristine would very much like to disagree. Storming across the album’s run-time without a second breath, DiGristine uses every last fret and note possible to truly attack the listener’s senses in a calculated assault, only holding back to further build tension and disgustingly downtuned depravity. He works in perfect tandem with Hazard, who’s riffs and slams across the album are the best he’s ever sounded. Opening the album with a blazing display of dissonance and aggression and closing it with unmitigated, unparalleled hatred, Hazard crafted a tone that sounds closer to an actual buzzsaw than any of the cavalcade of 90’s death metal clones that inspired him. Equal parts sinister, slimy, and serpentine, Hazard truly shines on tracks like “Angels Gather Here” and the previously mentioned “Armory of Obsidian Glass”, where he truly dominates the mix in the most violent way possible.
Nobody is safe. Scorch the Earth. Destroy all that lives.
It’s no secret: Full of Hell is an incredible band, composed of incredible musicians. But none are as crucial to the sound and feel of the band as vocalist and electronic instrumental Mastermind Dylan Walker. With a vocal range I can only truly describe as fucking scary, Walker has continued to evolve his barks, wretches, and growls to create the sonic equivalent of a panic attack. From the opening shrieks of “Burning Myrrh” through downright horrifying moments like the end of “Haunted Arches”, and especially album highlight “Armory of Obsidian Glass”, Walker is unparalleled in both brutality and pure, unmitigated, ruthless hatred. Where he shrieks, he tears his throat to shreds. Where he barks and bellows, his voice is the audio equal to unfiltered depravity. Walker is easily as versatile a vocalist as legend of grind Travis Ryan and his nastiness trumps even Jeff Walker of Carcass. Through and through, as a vocalist, Walker is it, the perfect voice to accompany such hellacious and head crushingly heavy atmosphere. Everyone needs to step their game up as of this release.
As I mentioned at the start, Weeping Choir is a perfect amalgamation of every Full of Hell release so far. Tracks like the album closer, “Cellar of Doors” and penultimate track “Ygramul the Many” even pull from the Full of Hell/Goldust split, whereas tracks like “Burning Myrrh” and “Aria of Jeweled Tears” make it clear that this is the spiritual successor and companion piece to Trumpeting Ecstasy. If you listen to one grindcore record this year, make it this one.
FFO: Extreme Noise Terror, Incantation, Primitive Man, Spazz