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If you haven't somehow come to check out Full of Hell in some incarnation right now, albeit their FOH Noise versions or their blasty, burning, caustic grindcore/sludge attack, you've been missing out.

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Album Review: FULL OF HELL & MERZBOW Full of Hell & Merzbow

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Something about the simmering, shrieking attack of noise adds to already destructive music. It gives everything an edge and burn and cuts straight to the bone like a blade steeped in fire and left to whiten. Suddenly all flesh becomes butter beneath the blade. And noise is working its way into everything. But you know what? Good. Even though it's been being incorporated for a long, long, long time.

If you haven't somehow come to check out Full of Hell in some incarnation right now, albeit their FOH Noise versions or their blasty, burning, caustic grindcore/sludge attack, you've been missing out. Though the latter has been more prevalent, Full of Hell have proven themselves through relentless touring, multiple EPs and split EPs, as well as two extremely solid full-lengths as one of the best bands extreme music have to offer. And though it's only been a year since Rudiments of Mutliation they've already unleashed their newest burning offering in collaboration with the master himself: Merzbow (Masami Akita), harsh noise and experimental artist.

The Full of Hell & Merzbow collaboration is a psychotic embrace for the listener. The opening few seconds of “Burst Synapse” offer no quarter, no sympathy. Roots of Earth Are Consuming My Home and Rudiments of Mutilation both introduced themselves with shrieking noise before getting down to the dirty. Here Full of Hell and Merzbow come out and sucker punch you. And once the blast beat and jangling noise get into your system like a jagged pill it's on.

It's strange because Full of Hell & Merzbow walks the line as Full of Hell's most straight forward and experimental approach. The main album was actually sometimes written around the noise that Merzbow gave Full of Hell. And holy shit did they pull it off. The album is the most grinding and intense the band has ever been. Full of Hell manages to punch through four songs before even relenting a little. From the aforementioned “Burst Synapse” (which is whole heatedly appropriately named) to “Blue Litmus,” the band takes no breaks, barely breaking things down or giving you time to breathe. The especially excellent “Gordian Knot” pulses with a section that manages to sync up Dylan Walker' shrill screech with some Merzbow distortion. And if that section isn't actually synced up, holy fucking shit does this guy have range control over his scream.

Merzbow's noise resides in the background and I'll admit I wish it were turned up some. However, once tracks like “Raise Thee, Great Wall, Bloodied And Terrible” come on the noise is fully lunched. “Raise Thee” might even be the best track on the whole album. It's frantic with skipping, scratching noise. Walker's distant, blistering screams add to the dark, blip laden atmosphere. The song evokes the feeling of a late night television gone full static to a snuff film. It's vicious and bloody. Other noiser tracks like “Ludjet Ad Guv” move at a slower, brooding pace. And since it falls in with “High Fells” the back to back tracks evoke the feeling of “Embrace” and “The Lord is My Light” from Rudiments if Merzbow had added his signature to the work.

Those that enjoy the sludgier side of Full of Hell will notice that's been left at the door. “High Fells” is the sludgiest the band gets, which is plenty, but the band has mostly opted for a far more extreme approach this time. These song are the most vicious they've written since their split with Calm the Fire. This is by far the most grindcore Full of Hell have ever gone and they absolutely killed it on this release.

The companion piece Sister Fawn, for those of you that have bought the CD, is more Merzbow, less Full of Hell. What the piece does besides give the double package a balancing act, is add more experimentation. Merzbow's signature jangling, metallic noise is in full swing with minor instrumentation. The pieces are immediately disserable as well. Where a piece like Pulse Demon flowed from one song to the next, Sister Fawn takes its time to dissolve into wailing soundscapes and fingernail tearing screeches.

Tracks “Ergot” and “Merzdrone” decimate to thundering drums. The sounds and shrieks will feel like they're blistering your ears. “Ergot” has an almost tame sense to it at first before it starts to crumble like foundation and disintegrate into a heart attack. “Merzdrone” has a more to-the-point mentality that virtually melts speakers. This is probably actually destroying my speakers right now. Fuck it.

The piece “Ahpid” is one that especially stands out, and one that especially causes your eardrums to rupture. With a metronome like backdrop and a squealing metallic jolt of distortion, the piece walks a fine line of drone and having a foot-tapping beat with the distant screams of Walker. Though the cave-like thunder of “Crumbling Ore” gives him a run for his money with its own vicious screams.

The five tracks clock in at over thirty-five minutes (longer than the Full of Hell offering). It's a mix of Pulse Demon and Dharama with the additions of Full of Hell. Sometimes minimalistic, sometimes droning, but always distorted and utterly caustic. It's a monstrous and successful weld but will only appeal to noise fans. Because this is Merzbow.

This is by far the best work Full of Hell has put out. The air of Merzbow resounds throughout, though it is a bit scaled down. Still, if you listen close enough it's there. The fact that this came to life as a project is something that I don't think many expected, Full of Hell included. I'm glad it did though because this is an astounding release. Full of Hell have managed to top themselves three times now. This is their best record by a long shot. Can they do it again? At this track record I wouldn't put it past them but they've set a helluva bar for themselves. The Merzbow section Sister Fawn is also devastating as well. There's a reason he's the noise king. His ability to shape the fuzzy soundscapes is something of wonder. Add to the instrumentation of Full of Hell and the whole thing only gets better. This is one of the best records of 2014 hands down and one of the harshest ragers that has been produced in a long, long time.


As always, you can find me here.

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