As I mentioned in my last review, it was a long long time of listening before I could appreciate the sound of dissonance. It took me years to learn to appreciate how chaos and clashing sounds could elicit so many emotions. But learn I did, and I’ve been addicted to harsh, heavy, challenging music since. Whereas I used to gravitate towards major-key and consonance and pop sensibility, now I love to wallow in feedback and atonal madness.
Yet apparently, years of diving into that dissonance still did not prepare me for Full of Hell’s latest release Weeping Choir.
Never before have I listened to a record as intensely relentless as Weeping Choir. Whereas almost every heavy act at least teases the listener with moments of beauty or gentility, this record is utterly devoid of hopeful sounds. Full of Hell feed death and grind and powerviolence and noise into a creaking meatgrinder, churning out a dark and hateful amalgam of sound. “Downward” stabs with blast beats and off-center growls, while “Angels Gather Here” pounds out sternum-shaking hits. “Rainbow Coil” bursts like boils of harsh noise and coats the ears in static viscera.
Even the vocal contributions of Lingua Ignota’s Kristin Hayter on expansive “Armory of Obsidian Glass” add more darkness than light, taking consonant tones and twisting them into strange sinister harmonies. The only reprieve from the crushing weight comes in tiny sonic snippets between tracks, somehow making radio static the most consoling sound on the record.
Weeping Choir doesn’t just crank the dissonance to 11, it tears off the knob and guts the electronics. From the sound of the instrumentation on this record, that recklessness seems to be how Full of Hell approaches their music. The guitar forces fierce tremolo picking and chunky palm mutes through a screen of distortion, while the drums blast so forcefully that I have little doubt there was a heap of broken heads in the studio after tracking. The bass tone is massive and terribly heavy, bashing each note into the ears like a baseball bat. Against this musical juggernaut, the band tosses power electronics, heavily-affected samples, and even an utterly directionless saxophone, stirring pure pandemonium into their vitriolic sound.
While there are worlds of sound to unpack on Weeping Choir, the sun those planets revolve around are undoubtedly Dylan Walker’s vocals. Walker soaks the record with terrifying screams, guttural growls, and throat-scraping wretches, wielding a dangerously sharp voice to deadly effect. Though every moment is certainly harsh, Walker’s severe control of tone and delivery create peaks and valleys in their audio hellscape, effectively shaping the dynamic of each song with their voice alone. Songs like “Haunted Arches” and “Ygramul the Many” smash furious lows and screeching highs back-to-back, alternating between them so rapidly it gives the impression of two vocalists playing call-and-response. This varied and specialized approach to vocalization steers the dynamic movement of the record, somehow paves sonic pathways across the hostile and ruthlessly sadistic landscape of the instrumentation.
The overall tone of this album is utterly frightening and starkly bleak, a feeling only intensified by the lyrical content. While there are multiple fantastical references in Weeping Choir—“Silmaril” is a call to the (impossible to finish) prequel text to The Lord of the Rings, while “Ygramul the Many” is the name of the a hive-mind creature in The Neverending Story—the writing is anything but whimsical. Walker employs tons of filth imagery in their lyrics, evoking a landscape of horror and suffering. The record is replete with viscous language choices, and lines like “Gutters swell with the fruits of loose flesh” and “Your corpse laid out like a foul white sponge” feel unsanitary even as I read them.
Simply put, Weeping Choir sounds like a panicked heart in the throes of cardiac arrest. Every song is pure intensity, every riff the roar of a hellbeast clawing its way toward you, maw wide open and ready to devour. I fancy myself a fan of heavy music, of dissonant music, but Full of Hell truly surprised me with Weeping Choir, mashing together bombastic noise and tireless brutality into something entirely new. It’s shown me I’m not yet close to wholly appreciating harsh and heavy music, but you best believe I’m already doing my homework.
My Top Tracks: “Angels Gather Here” and “Thundering Hammers”
Weeping Choir is out on Relapse Records. You can stream it on Spotify or purchase your own copy on Bandcamp.
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