Weeping Choir by Full Of Hell
Ah, Full Of Hell. The band that re-ignited my insanity - driven passion for the dark depths of underground extreme metal. lI’ll be the first to admit that a few years back, I was in a poor headspace for a while, and my musical choices & attitude reflected accordingly. I succumbed to a state of complete jaded-old-man-bitterness when it came to new bands, new metal, etc… Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. Literally. A million times over. Now I make my own t-shirts, so, who fucking cares. Not saying I wasn’t a fan or a stranger to shows, but I couldn’t give six less of a fucks about keeping up with the current offerings or whoever’s label decided to pop up next. THAT IS, UNTIL, I picked up a little record called Trumpeting Ecstasy. An obscure picture of a nun with her face set ablaze, actually, shooting out literal fire from her face, in black and white. What’s this band? Oh, Full Of Hell? Sure, I’ve heard their stuff… but THIS? THIS shit is SOMETHING ELSE. It was all downhill from there. My passion for extreme grimy & grindy music from the underground came back tenfold… hopefully you can tell. The virus is back and has mutated itself from a Day of the Dead type virus where my tongue is hanging out of my jaw as I aimless grasp at intestine piles for delicate flavors of death metal to much more in the vein of a sprinting, thrashing, and rabid 28 Weeks Later - type zombie. Actually, no, I’m the fucking HELICOPTER from 28 Weeks Later. THAT”S how Full of Hell makes me feel; and if you’ve never seen 28 Weeks Later are unable to relate my reference please finish this review and do so immediately following you coping with the time you wasted reading this and thank you in advance. Being exhumed from my “everything’s the same, everything sucks type-shit of a mindset, complaining as I play a lot of the same, feel-good favorites on repeat” by the hands of Full of Hell was something I’ll never forget. I’ve kept Trumpeting Ecstasy close to my heart as I pillaged my way through the metal underground and continue to do so. The sheer chaos that protrudes from it, intense extreme metal combined with industrial noise electronic sounds from some sort of abyss, sparked a deadly fire in me that has yet to show any signs of slowing. So, today, as I type this review of their follow up to one of my very favorite records of all time, Full Of Hell has grown immensely.. almost as a parallel to my inner al consuming fire and personal battles. They are hardly considered “underground” at this point as the “grind purists” scoff at this review, I know, and I say, chill out BRO. I personally could not be happier about Full of Hell’s seemingly exponentially growing notoriety and success, it is insanely gratifying for a fan like me. I will support them until the day they headline Coachella and release their St. Anger. And even then… Anyway, now that my ego is satisfied and now that you’re aware that this review won’t be biased EVEN A LITTLE BIT… going me in kneeling before the Weeping Choir.
Saying Full Of Hell had their work cut out for them to release a follow up that could hold a candle to Trumpeting Ecstasy would be the understatement of the decade. Even I, a profoundly vocal and teetering on fan-girl status fan of the band, had my doubts (and maybe I still do). Would they blindside us with a record focused in entirely different direction? Would they make Trumpeting Ecstasy Pt. II: Still Trumpeting?? Would they drop the ball totally and make a coffee house EP??? Well, a little bit of all of that minus the coffee house bit but if I had a coffee house you bet Full of Hell would be vomiting out of the speakers as I made endless GRIND puns. You’re welcome. Eventually, the band stated this would serve as a “companion piece” to the brilliant Trumpeting Ecstasy. In simple terms, they are meant to be listened to together and compliment one another, existing in the same universe but not necessarily a sequel or a reaction, just partners in crime; basically. I feel as though Weeping Choir is more along the lines of a distinguished older brother, leaving Trumpeting Ecstasy to be the loud & snotty brat borderline overdosing on ADHD and/or schizophrenia medication little brother. Although, at least they go to the same church, it seems. Much like a parent choosing their favorite child, it’s simply impossible to say which is technically superior. We love them both as individuals and proud of them for so many different things. All kidding aside, they DO in fact serve as wonderfully interesting yet horrifying compliments of one in another, leaving each to shine in their own unique light.. or uh, darkness, I suppose.
For where Trumpeting was scattered, physically brutal like a Tasmanian devil with flame throwers; Weeping Choir seems much more experienced & wiser in its maliciousness, like a sorcerer with a book of spells that you don’t want to know a thing about. It wants to go deeper, straight to the source, if you will. Weeping Choir is a record that goes way beyond the physical and into the psyche, the soul, the spirit.. and infiltrates from there, dismantling the religious establishment in perhaps a classier sense. From the inside out. Tormenting from the psyche as to killi the controls, so the psychical simply has no say in the matter. Weeping is pure psychological warfare where as Trumpeting is like having a flash grenade thrown in your mouth. Also, I’m high. Anyway, it seems as if Trumpeting was designed only to paralyze and Weeping is here to decimate, wishing to cease the physical existence by perpetuating the spiritual purgatory. Think of them like salt and pepper. Try picking one. If you can, you’re a better and more decisive soul than I ever have any hope to be. BOTH is the correct answer, freaks. I feel it is important to drive home the fact that this is NOT Trumpeting Ecstasy 2 (although I’m huge fan and even a huger sucker for sequels that I would be totally happy with that), rather; Trumpeting was the prerequisite to the masterclass that is Weeping Choir. The ground work is laid, now it’s time to build.. then probably burn it down anyways, if I know Full Of Hell.
I do not mean to misconstrue the sound or vibe of Full Of Hell’s Weeping Choir in any sort of analytical and weird way to miss the big picture. Just to be clear, this album IS fully armed, dangerous, heavy as all the demons in hell could ever produce, and faster than all the angels above could run away from it. Even bit of chaotic Full of Hell energy that makes them so damn fascinating is here and more. As true to their style, it’s pretty daunting to toil down their specific instrumentation to hear all that’s really and truly going on in each song. Opening with an off-kilter-yet-totally-killer drum beat, thankfully reassuring their grindcore influences are here to remain, they absolutely rip and whirl their way through Burning Myrrh until the knuckle dragging death metal slowly stomps it to a halt. Amidst several tempo changes, shrieks, shrills, and classic Full Of Hell power; all of that from their lead single in under two minutes is far from a shabby way to introduce the record, and is a damn good warning of the atrocities to come. The fact that you can’t really tell what’s going on, you just know you’re being hit with some WICKED ass music, is probably the aspect of Full Of Hell that is so appealing. There’s no point in trying to decipher beyond the surface level of differentiating instrumentation from audible mental anguish and / or demonic possession. They excrete pure chaos in music form and it is, in my opinion, pretty damn perfect. Almost as if it is up to willful suspension of disbelief, why to to surgically examine their sound so you just ruin it for yourself or look stupid trying? Although, I am going to look stupid trying to the best of my ability, for the sake of this review. Trying to break down piece by piece all that goes into a Full of Hell release (and this record especially) is like working as a coroner at a mass genocide. Or, you know, something similar… is how I feel meticulously trying to put my thumb down on this electronic grind demon noise protruding from Weeping Choir.
Since the bands inception, they have been slowly morphing their sound (as any good band should) from more straightforward hardcore/metal, to experimental noise, to letting their gird/death/black influences shine, and now a hybrid monster creation child that is this album. It sounds as thought hardcore, sludge, grind, punk, grind, industrial, death, did I say grind? Yeah, all of those thrown into a wood chipper and blasted back out in your face. That’s pretty much how I would accurately describe the sound of Full Of Hell circa 2019. This is achievable by absurdly grotesque desire to push boundaries via instruments, sure, but where their sound is really solidified and brought to “life”, lies within the production. Their gritty, chaotic, layered & insane production goes a long way in helping Full Of Hell blur those lines between physical and beyond. The gnarly production is so perfect at blending the electronic bits with the extreme metal rampages, and brilliantly weaves in all sorts of guest vocals, saxophones, static, just to name a few. Suddenly, whatever kind of pedals or tunings they’re employing become rather worthless. Just accept that this recording came from a worshipping palace of the underworld and move on with your life. I am careful to to overshadow Full of Hell’s playing ability here, as they have proven themselves to be although not the most technical of players, but disturbingly powerful songwriters. Although “groove” isn’t necessarily the driving force of the record, they are effortless in their ability to unleash an all out metal field assault one second, then hone it back in on an essential rhythm, or push into droning/doom territory, before going off the rails into electro noise realms. One look at the album’s centerpiece, Armory of Obsidian Glass, will tell you all you need to know. It’s a wonderfully composed piece of evil that will unduly go down in history as one of their best songs from any record.
Vocalist Dylan Walker continues to cement his reign as one of the best vocalists in extreme metal, ever. I’m officially coining Luciana Pavarotti of metal; due to his weaponization of range. He hits the deepest bellows straight from the volcanic pits of hell, to screeching and squeals only found on X-rated Texas Chainsaw rip-off sets. The lyrics (wether you have mastered the art of making them out or not) are just as deadly of ammunition as the vocal cord guns that fire them. Have a look at some lyrics on the slam-worthy ‘Downward’, “so does the weeping mother probe her clutch / like an old worn oak beam swells and dries in the wetness and the turn of the seasons // so does flesh/ your corpse laid out like a fouled white sponge, chums of muscle and skin free from the shame of being you….” just so you have a faint idea of the thematic elements of this record. His lyrics truly shine in retrospective and often epic (i mean, there’s a Lord of the rings song on here, basically) metaphor that are used to haunting effect in conjunction with the hellish music. Spencer Hazard, the band’s main writer and guitarist, obviously made sure of it. The sheer amount of noise, spells, dynamite, and riffs that are laid down by the axe of Hazard are simply unmatched by others of the genre, and signature Full Of Hell sound… Ungodly. And just how the achieve that tone, I will leave it up to Lucifer himself to figure out. Technicalities aside, thought there are plenty of guitar nerd moments to brag about such as the obscene riff energy in “Haunting Arches” emulating a Morbid Angel - meets Nails type vibe. Yet his songwriting does a fantastic job of shadowing maybe the bands weaker moments and highlighting the strong points. They retain that hardcore/grind base throughout much of the album that is so captivating you can overlook the lack of technicality, but who needs that all the time anyway?
Their remarkable ability to channel that “old school” feel of extreme metal in the sense that it is remarkably loose sounding, is essential to Full Of Hell’s chaotic atmosphere. It is definitely not too tight or at all triggered, it is rather genuine raw craziness that sounds like it could fly throw the speakers and send you into eternal oblivion. Sitting at he left hand of the six string, the bass, courtesy of Sam Digristine (masters his role of secondary vocals as well), also is on point throughout the whole atmosphere rich performance; very crucial to the record’s sound as well as over all vibe. The rich production and unsettling electronic experimentation would not be anywhere near as effective in absence of the thundering and brutal bass tones. Needless to say, drummer Dave Bland continues to explore the absurd depth of percussion patterns matched by no angel nor demon. He showcases the insanity of the death/grind influence but also the roaring and tribal bongo banging as he undoubtedly fuels the record with endless spawning of energy… and pain. Forgive the seemingly unnecessary analysis of the band if you’re all too familiar, but my point is at this stage ion the game, Full Of Hell have seemingly perfected their craft (or have come dangerously close at least). They have indeed mastered the formula infusing the experimental electronic noise power to the powerviolence and death defying and grinding insanity. The electronics do not only get a chance to shine on Weeping that they really didn’t necessarily on Trumpeting (maybe due to The Body collabs), but they play a more pivotal role as well. Wether they are employed to help transition form one song to next, serve as an eerie backdrop, or just add that extra layer of rich chaos to a track, they are clearly more deliberately and effectively used. Rainbow Coil, for example, although I feel made a smidge too long and maybe misplaced in the track list, gets a full 3 minutes of pure sonic brutality.
Weeping Choir is a record that is much more full-bodied, deliberately composed, and pun intended fleshed out, than anything they’ve done in years past. Intentionally taking aspects from all of their previous works and presenting them in a naturally matured and experienced fashion, gives us a better understanding and deeper appreciation for not only this record; but the band in general. Continuing down this path they very well are able to grow into this cult like mythical stature of a band they are destined to become. Weeping Choir is a record that they could ONLY have made at this point in their career, following Trumpeting, taking inspiration from their past and/or influences, and presenting it in a unique way that belongs to this unique 10 - year mark in the bands hopefully long history. This is a transitional album for the band, although I’m afraid the full moon has just started shining on them. If this is truly the companion piece to Trumpeting, I’m beyond fascinated with the demon those two companions will conceive as their next LP. If my crystal ball is correct, we’re in for a real motherfucker next time. Better watch out. I love you, Full of Hell.
Gym Rating: 4/5
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