Rare do we as listeners have a chance to witness a band evolve like Full of Hell has. To wit, their debut LP, Roots of Earth Are Consuming My Home has been a consistent favorite since it was discovered perusing Toxicbreed’s Funhouse back in 2011 and has yet to leave my preferred listening devices. It was raw, furious and esoteric, and executed on a level unheard of for such a young band. Ever pushing that sound, their second album, 2013’s Rudiments of Mutilation, while not as refreshing as their debut, saw them break through dimensional barriers with its grating noise-grindcore hybridization. It was an experimental deep dive that lead to two collaborative LPs with noise pioneer, Merzbow, and the genre-evading, sorrowful The Body. The former double album equipped FOH with a newfound unabashed rage, a churning darkness that carried over into the jarring schizophrenia found on the delightful dirge One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache. For exhaustion’s sake, Full of Hell punctuated each larger release with an assembly line of noise-centered EPs and a sextet of splits with artists from myriad genres. All that came to a head with 2015’s Amber Mote in the Black Vault, which, until now, was to me the definitive FOH release. At a concise and spry four songs, Amber Mote floored me. It still floors me, much like Roots of Earth has for years.
With their signing to Profound Lore, Full of Hell have given us the culmination of their aural soul-searching, in addition to me finally getting to the point of all my babbling. I won’t even restrain my praise here by labeling Trumpeting Ecstasy a goddamn masterpiece. Officially their third full-length, discounting the aforementioned collaborations, Trumpeting Ecstasy weaves everything that came before it into one complex, nightmarish and vibrant tapestry. The collection is their signature grindcore with dashes of noise and death metal, your usual Full of Hell fare, but it’s the subtle complications and harsh elegance spread throughout its eleven tracks that puts this LP on its deserved pedestal.
It’s clear that Full of Hell are far from ending their rampage, but that doesn’t keep Trumpeting Ecstasy from feeling like the summation of all they’ve learned through touring, writing, collaboration or otherwise. FOH long ago set the template for succinct songs brimming with bombastic ideas and here those ideas rain down with such velocity you hardly notice the flood creeping up to your ears. “Deluminate” spasms with bone-breaking intesity, segueing like a vein running off from Amber Mote. Vocalist Dylan Walker is nothing short of an animal throughout as he gnashes his fangs against guitarist Spencer Hazard’s nickel-plated serration. In spite of the guitar tone’s megaton heaviness, the tracks are breathless, with nary a moment of respite between them. The vast expanses of static that permeated their prior efforts are largely gone, giving way to reality tearing blitzes like “Branches of Yew” and “Digital Prison.” Drummer Dave Bland’s playing here is on par to miniguns spewing to the cadence of mathematical equations as he finds the ability to throw creatively spaced tempos amid his exhaustive sprees, namely on “Ashen Mesh.” Final track “At the Cauldron’s Bottom” is a splendid exercise in grimy melody as the hyperspeed pace gives way to a calculated, lumbering sludge metal romp where Walker finds himself exchanging snarls with Old Man Gloom’s Nate Newton. “Cosmic Vein” brings in a brief wall of haze before blasting away with psychotic glee, melting from raw punk circle pitting to climactic grind neck-snapping; handily the album’s busiest entry.
The title track is the appropriate focal point, placed as the penultimate track, where Full of Hell’s touring and tracking with The Body has its clearest payoff here, just exchange the Assembly of Light choir with the ethereal Nicole Dollanganger. While Converge’s Kurt Ballou (who also provided his production skills) and The Body’s Lee Buford throw in their bass and sampling chops, respectively, to grand effect, it’s Dollanganger and Walker’s exchange that make the track so haunting. Dollanganger is 80s Madonna trapped in hell, crooning her perverse lyricism in a duet with Walker acting as purgatory’s congregation. Beyond them Full of Hell lurks like a thunderous furnace that is foreboding and inviting in equal measure, tying Trumpeting Ecstasy’s dueling tones into an incendiary singularity.
Shrugging genre trappings while embracing them to the point of blissful suffocation, Trumpeting Ecstasy is a true testament to this band’s staying power within their stylistic circles. In fact the album is painstakingly rooted in being uninviting, in being ugly, in being wrathful. Full of Hell have made a career of menacing any expectations, of challenging senses and sensibilities alike and with Trumpeting Ecstasy they turn that playful offense into an art form. This is Full of Hell’s unflinching masterwork. Shudder in awe and terror.