A tale as old as time: Primitive Man and Full of Hell brought into unholy union through a shared fascination with the most unfriendly of sounds. Anyone who has caught these two on the same live bill would attest their noisy take on their respective brands of extreme metal.
Full of Hell's previous work with Japanoise staple Merzbow speaks to their commitment to contorting their chaotic grindcore/powerviolence roots, and you don't have to factor in Ethan McCarthy's Hell Simulation noise project see why Primitive Man uses walls of gnarled distortion to play doom in its most punishing form. Perhaps a collaboration was inevitable, but the results accomplish more than a cut-and-dry combination. Suffocating Hallucination finds Full of Hell and Primitive Man dragging each other into a bottomless pit of caustic oblivion.
It doesn't take long for the lonesome, brittle chords at the start of "Trepanation For Future Joys" to bring jump-scare blasts of low-end and walls of shrill feedback. Indeed, much of the track is akin to harsh noise wall, with a very slow beat to keep it moving. The aforementioned chords do emerge from the mire, but Full of Hell and Primitive Man have made music more for drowning the senses in bile.
Visceral in its monotony, the song provides striking dynamics during its 10 minutes. It may all have a similar level of grating madness, but the layers of distortion remain intelligent in their placement as the rhythms push and pull the cacophony. The vocal performances tread a similar path, as Dylan Walker's Nazgûl shrieks mesh with McCarthy's Balrog bellows, meeting halfway with glass-gargling snarls.
The album's unrelenting dissonance may flow like a sentient glacier made of the frozen carcasses of giant gastropods, but that doesn't stop "Rubble Home" from again starting with an ethereal, dissonant chord progression. It's as if the two bands want to hinge their brain-melting drone-scapes with something the human ear can detect as more than skull-rattling evil.
To that effect, the song's central riff brings urgency and sorrow to its decadent mutations. But what's really ear-catching here is when Full of Hell drummer Dave Bland breaks into a blitz-speed blast beat over Primitive Man drummer Joe Linden sticks with a viscous, oozing groove. The two percussionists lean into their extremities to make their performances respectively audible, even when they unite for the song's climactic avalanche of slow-mo atonality.
Whether or not it's technically true, Suffocating Hallucination sounds like the result of two drummers, two bassists, three guitarists and two vocalists vomiting up their twisted ideas. This might explain why the noisegrind explosion "Bludgeon" and the post-industrial meditation "Dwindling Will" contrast so tastefully. While the former is an exercise in how much damage Full of Hell and Primitive Man can deal 30 seconds, the latter shirks metal entirely for an eerie tapestry of creakings, clatterings and drones.
It's here where this meeting of mind's reveals a knack for using sordid sonics to create something not only interesting, but immersive. The track doesn't even acquire distortion until it enters its death throes, using its reserved dynamics to paint a dismal picture of dimly-lit torture dungeons. In both cases, it's not hard to believe each cook got a chance to add their flavoring to the rotten stew.
The dark ambient side of Full of Hell and Primitive Man comes in handy for the 11-and-a-half-minute closer "Tunnels to God." Harrowing sound collages comprise the first four minutes before the bass drops—bass that's so distorted it's almost unrecognizable until a swaying three-count beat provides a scaffolding.
From this gnarled foundation sprouts one of the most riveting pieces created by either band, as tectonic chords rumble beneath a despondent tremolo-picked melody. Walker and McCarthy trade vocal lines and layer their guttural machinations to further the song's emotional heft. It stays engaging in its weighty intensity, until it lays itself to rest in a bottomless pit of ear-piercing feedback. The song lives up to its name, as the seven musicians mine the depths of consciousness for enlightenment. While the results aren't pleasant, they're extremely effective.
Suffocating Hallucination isn't exactly a surprising result for a Full of Hell and Primitive Man collaboration—but it's a great addition to both bands' discographies. It provides some interesting stylistic cross sections, but also pushes them in directions unique to their joint efforts. Drowning in disgusting filth seldom feels more inviting.