It might surprise some people to learn that Trumpeting Ecstasy is only FULL OF HELL‘s third proper full-length, considering how prolific and ever-present they have been in other ways over the course of this decade. It might come four years after their second album Rudiments of Mutilation but FULL OF HELL have been very busy since then, releasing splits with the likes of NAILS, an EP of original music, and most notably two collaborative albums with first Japanese noise legend MERZBOW and then sludge hell-bringers THE BODY. FULL OF HELL’s merciless grind proved an effective companion to MERZBOW’s pitch black nightmares, and if their usual white hot fury was swamped, muddied and diluted a tad on their collaboration with THE BODY, the upping of the death metal in their sound on the NAILS split and the Amber Mote in the Black Vault EP made clear that FULL OF HELL were still able to punish with clear direction.
If anyone was worried then that FULL OF HELL may have lost the ability to stand on their own feet creatively, Trumpeting Ecstasy is a monstrous way of shutting that down. Instead, working with artists they admire and being able to play with their sound within the confines of those collaborations seems to have taught FULL OF HELL some lessons and given them fresh conviction in what they are as a band. In a political atmosphere which has already been written about to death in regards to extreme music, it’d be trite to say that this is angry music for angry times, but when Trumpeting Ecstasy’s very title refers to “a moment of jubilance in the face of extinction” in the words of frontman Dylan Walker it’s impossible not for this record to feel so apt and relevant.
On the surface, one notable exception in the tracklist aside, Trumpeting Ecstasy seems like a surprisingly conservative release from FULL OF HELL in regards to experimentation. From the moment their debut opened with a full minute of squelching electronic squall FULL OF HELL set themselves out to be not your average grind band, and their recent collaborative efforts confirmed this further, highlighting a progressive kinship with pioneers like NAPALM DEATH whose drive to push the envelope not only birthed grindcore to begin with but has defined their whole career. What this album is though is their most complete and accomplished offering to date. Ideas are condensed into their purest, most effective form, and it’s possessing of a searing level of rage that burns well beyond most of their peers from the second opener Deluminate crashes into action. The hardcore element in the stew turns The Cosmic Vein into a wrecking ball, and following a distorted The Exorcist quote Crawling Back to God unleashes a riff channelling the twisted potency of MORBID ANGEL’s Immortal Rites before giving way to double bass that steamrolls like a tank remorselessly advancing over obstacles, living or not.
The death metal remains a more prominent part of what makes FULL OF HELL tick here, but while noise is used more sparingly than on their earlier releases it is used in a more cohesive manner, wrapping the metal in a layer of gurgling knots. Differing vocal styles are frequently layered on top of each other providing a multi-faceted attack, and Walker’s high-pitched shrieks often seem to become part of the noise themselves. FULL OF HELL are not sloppier or more imprecise than bands like NAILS where each individual blow is distinctly felt, but the nature of their cacophony means that it’s more like taking a bath in barbed wire, a blur of meshing pain. Trumpeting Ecstasy is not notably shorter than previous works, but it’s the one that feels the shortest, as its opening nine tracks leave barely a moment for breath.
The final ten minutes of the record though are where FULL OF HELL really spread their wings. The title track is purely harrowing, as the ethereal and almost childlike innocence of Canadian singer-songwriter Nicole Dollanganger is set against chugging industrial horror before the full weight of the band cuts in to devastating effect. The two sides of this coin are contained within distinct sections of the song that it transitions between, and there’s potential here for what is a great idea to become something truly special if these sounds were melded a tad more, similarly to the role Simone Vollenweider plays in TRIPTYKON when fully integrated into the cataclysmic but transcendent power of that band. Closer At the Cauldron’s Bottom though erupts all the more viciously in the title track’s wake, its opening two minutes almost exhaustingly ravenous. As it develops though it turns into an absolute monolith of a song, a single menacing riff bringing in a sense of ever-encroaching doom allowed to ring out for a longer duration than any previous single track on the whole record, as the drums become more and more primal and thunderous.
It’s an apocalyptic end to FULL OF HELL’s most vitriolic record, an album which solidifies their strongest assets as a band in a way that had to be done on their first new purely individual record following those collaborations. It’s ruthlessly efficient, and there’s enough evidence here to suggest that FULL OF HELL may well have some truly staggering work to come.
Trumpeting Ecstasy is out now on Profound Lore Records.
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