After a two album spell of collaboration releases – first with Japan’s grandfather of noise, Masami “Merzbow” Akita and Rhode Island sludge mavens, The Body on Full of Hell & Merzbow and One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache, respectively – it’s good to have this Maryland/Pennsylvania grind/noise quartet thinking and doing for themselves. Not that either of the above-mentioned albums were slouches in the areas of expansive and acerbic brutality; quite the opposite, actually, as they are both a deft balance and exposition of the strengths of all involved parties and delivered some of the most adventurous moments of Full of Hell’s grueling discography. But when you don’t have someone else’s style and material swishing around the back of your brain and can just zero in on what you do best, chances are better you’ll do your best (and while Full of Hell’s collaborations have worked well and to their advantage, there’s one word for anyone needing an example of how meetings of creative minds can go tits up: Lulu).
That being said, the tack that Trumpeting Ecstasy takes is one that follows the course and structure of the band’s live show. Starting off with a blasting opening salvo, this record is continually working to pin the listener to any proximal solid surface with not only vicious grind, but with pauses, samples, tempo variation and songs being buffered up against one another in the mastering process with virtually no room to catch a contemplative breath. Similarly, the few-seconds break between “The Cosmic Vein” and “Digital Prison” makes the bass-driven lead-in to the latter visceral, physiological and effectively punishing. At the conclusion of the record are two tracks; the title track is the record’s penultimate and more of a flowing noisescape, the sort of thing you’d see frontman Dylan Walker creating while hunched over his homemade pedal/noise box while album closer, “At The Cauldron’s Bottom” is a predominately mid-paced dirge that’s inadvertently melodic as it is a deliberate graphite nail to the forehead. It’s like watching one lunk headed, muscle-bound MMA-type calmly and pointedly stride up to a stranger in the middle of the worst neighborhood in whatever shithole town you call home, seeing her haul off with a single haymaker to the face and watching the punched person’s nose explode in a shower of cartilage and claret.
Trumpeting Ecstasy actually kicks off with a sample that speaks to the hopelessness and literal misery of modern life before a chromatic-based slice of single-note grind and exquisitely painful vocals of “Deluminate.” “Branches of Yew” is less than a minute, but the effected guitar that introduces it offers a valley to the peak of the song’s palm-muted grind and vocal call-and-response. I’d imagine the previously mentioned “The Cosmic Vein” and “Digital Prison” are what Discordance Axis might sound like had they employed the services of a bass player – thick and brutal with strains of Voivod emanating from the nook and cranny of every riff as the stick-click count-in and eerie “Jennifer”-esque sample connecting it to the chugging mid-paced lurch ‘n’ dirge of “Crawling Back to God” makes the triptych combination the album’s locus of power.
“Gnawed Flesh” is a crawler that fuses the DNA of Man is the Bastard and Hellhammer and acts as a dynamic segue into the infectious, Brutal Truth-styled grind of “Ashen Mesh.” All this comes in advance of the two aforementioned closing tracks which feature one noticeable surprise: the absence of the usual amounts of power electronic/industrial noise compared to the amounts the band has previously employed. Whether this is simply where they’re at at this particular juncture in time, a scaling back considering the amount of noise that went into the collaborative records or a sign of things to come, only they know, but having Full of Hell pretty much put their collective head down and ram into your solar plexus at full force isn’t a bad thing either.