After listening to Full Of Hell‘s collaboration with Merzbow (which was really more of a split with some collaboration than it was a pure collaboration), I was definitely left wondering where they’d go next. Each release unleashes a new monster, always more frightening than the last, and all leading up to their finally fully crossing the threshold into grind territory. The incarnation the band took on the Full Of Hell / Merzbow LP drew heavily from the dissonant, yet almost ethereal riffing and perfectly paced drumming of Discordance Axis (my all time favorite grind band); the use of suffocating, nightmarish atmospheres which can be pretty easily traced back to Gasp (the most criminally overlooked 90s powerviolence band); and topped off with some hints of grindy death metal, bringing to mind bands like Carbonized. What was left for them to do at this point, where can they go from here? They did what any confrontational band bent on musical destruction would do: they went deeper.
Amber Mote In The Black Vault sees Full Of Hell pushing their writing further into the realm of grind (and to some extent death metal), pulling us all kicking and screaming with them. As soon as it begins, this 7” explodes with disgusting death grunts and sinister, twisted riffing; they are not fucking around. There’s no intro, there’s no build up, there’s not even a second to catch your breath; just pure grinding annihilation. What I find awesome about this release is that as soon as the first track had ended and the second had begun, it was clear that Full Of Hell is bringing in influence from Japanese death/grind bands like Multiplex, 324, Gibbed, Gate, and others who combine discordant chords with filthy death metal-influenced riffing (or full on death metal riffing as is the case with Multiplex). Being the big fan of this style that I am, I was extremely pleased to hear Full Of Hell pick up some pointers from these bands and run with it in their own way.
I’ve always been so impressed with how Full Of Hell can change their sound, mutating from release to release, yet they always have the same core to their music. Many bands who try this end up hopping from style to style, often following trends or not even forming their own sound; but somehow Full Of Hell continues to sound like Full Of Hell, despite always pushing forward and playing with new ideas. They constantly stay ahead of the curve, leaving most imitators and trends far behind, eating their dust, and trying desperately to keep up. As a band, Full Of Hell clearly has both a mastery of songwriting, and also a vast knowledge of the territory they’re exploring. There’s no derivative bullshit or copying peers here; these guys look at the bands they love, and carefully choose the best, most vile aspects of each. You can usually tell when a band knows their shit, and Full Of Hell truly do.
On top of all that, they also know how to nail a Melvins cover; specifically the uncomfortably timed “Oven” from the classic Ozma LP. I was wondering how this would turn out, and how it would hold up in comparison to the original or even Pig Destroyer’s cover of it on their first LP, Explosions In Ward 6. I can say with confidence, Full Of Hell did an outstanding job on making this their own on Amber Mote In The Black Vault. There are hints of both the original and Pig Destroyer’s cover (I guess that might have been unavoidable), but it’s distinctly Full Of Hell. The pacing is flawless; the silences are almost painful, building anxiety and fear and then abruptly, jarringly ending as the song progresses. It’s definitely a hard track to pull off, but Full Of Hell did it.
The most important things to take away from this review are that Full Of Hell knows what they are doing, knows how to keep everyone surprised, and clearly has some of the best influences for doing what they do – something they proudly wear on their sleeves (sorry, Agathocles clones). They’re not interested in writing the music you want to hear, they’re not interested in what many of their peers are doing, they’re not interested in your praise, your derision, or your opinion at all; they are only interested in utter sonic destruction, regardless of who they alienate along the way. While everyone is left scratching their heads or blindly consuming, Full Of Hell is gearing up for their next attack. The question is: where’s it coming from next?