There’s no shortage of bands out there who have tried to build a pedigree off of a general antipathy towards their listeners and the world at large. Groups that weaponize noisy, chaotic misanthropy and unbearably grim atmospheres have gone from a select few in a niche to a veritable trend within heavy music with the likes of Deathspell Omega, Dragged Into Sunlight, and The Body releasing albums that intentionally border on the unlistenable to repeated critical acclaim. Sometimes, when you push the music hard enough, the music pushes back, and every day we get more and more music that aims to be as aggressive, ugly, and off-putting as possible for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s the way these tones can convey raw, unbridled emotion; for others, it’s the exact opposite – any identifiably human characteristics have been replaced with either the purely animal or the cold and robotic. In the former camp, we have Pig Destroyer; in the latter, we have Artificial Brain. It’s not a clean dichotomy, but you get the gist of it: music has been moving in far more extreme and ugly directions, exponentially more so over the past decade than ever before.
Full of Hell are certainly not a band that have shied away from the “extremization” of heavy music into more and more inhospitable climes. Across roughly seven years, the group has put out four full-lengths – one of which saw them teaming up with Japanese noise god Merzbow, while the next one involved plenty of collaboration with aforementioned drone nihilists The Body – and a handful of EPs, as well as splits with Code Orange (Kids), Goldust, and, most recently, Nails. Their style lends itself well to this constant output of music: Full of Hell plays fast, dirty, mean grindcore that brings in plenty of noise and occasional elements of powerviolence. It’s a rarity that songs extend beyond the two-minute mark, nor do they particularly need to.
It’s been a little while, though, since Full of Hell stood on their own. Only one of their four releases in the past four years – EP Amber Mote in the Black Vault – actually had them operating on their own, and while nobody was particularly worried per se that the band had lost their touch, many were wondering if the repeated collaborations and splits were the sign of some forthcoming creative stagnation that would plague this release and prevent it from touching either of the band’s past solo LPs. Thankfully, Trumpeting Ecstasy completely annihilates any trepidation one might have harbored about Full of Hell losing their touch in any way.
No time is wasted here in getting right to the rotting meat and potatoes of Trumpeting Ecstasy‘s sound: after a short audio clip, opening track “Deluminate” launches into a flaming, atomizing torrent of sound for which the phrase “no holds barred” would be an extreme understatement. Full of Hell doesn’t play music so much as unleash a cacophonous audio hell that screeches and careens past listeners’ ears as drums and guitars cascade into each other as fragmented slabs of white-hot, blistering noise. “Deluminate” crashes violently into the next track, “Branches of Yew,” another under-a-minute crusher that builds up for just a moment before baring itself entirely. The vocals on Trumpeting Ecstasy are jets of corrosive acid over instrumentals that threaten to pull apart or implode by the threat of their own sheer force, especially when guest vocalists like Aaron Turner (of ISIS, Mamiffer, and Sumac) come to the table to add variety, as on “Crawling Back To God.” The album’s title track, though, is the shining gem as far as the record’s guests go: singer-songwriter Nicole Dollanganger juxtaposes her lilting, lullaby-like vocal delivery to the thunderous, visceral Goliath-pulse Full of Hell usually trades in for what will probably end up being one of the best singles of 2017.
If there’s even a possible downside to Trumpeting Ecstasy, it comes in the form of its length: 11 tracks constitute roughly 22 minutes of music, making this a relatively short affair by most standards. This compression is pretty typical of the genres Full of Hell takes to, so it’s hard to fault them for this. But even with that in mind, it’s safe to say that another five minutes of music wouldn’t have doomed this album to collapse under its own weight. What is here is so incredible, though, that this small shortcoming is easily taken in stride.
When the dust has settled at the album’s end, there isn’t anything left to dissect, no rubble to examine. The band has done a thorough job of bringing scorching ruin to everything in their path. Trumpeting Ecstasy is an auditory equivalent to complete nuclear warfare. This is a crushing and monstrous effort on the part of Full of Hell, and saying Trumpeting Ecstasy has topped anything they’ve put out so far isn’t hyperbolic enough to describe how impressive of a release this is. With this album, Full of Hell have catapulted themselves into the absolute upper echelons of extreme music. Nobody is ready. Brace yourselves.
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This bad boy comes out on May 5th courtesy of Profound Lore Records. Preorder Trumpeting Ecstasy here.