Full of Hell - Full of Hell & Merzbow [Profound Lore - 2014]
They say there’s no rest for the wicked and in Full of Hell’s case that saying rings particularly true. The Maryland/Pennsylvania quartet has been busy as all hell (no pun intended) with releases and touring over the last few years. Now they’re back at it with a new full length album. This time they’re collaborating with none other than one of the most prolific figures in noise: Merzbow (a.k.a. Masami Akita). The full length, appropriately titled Full of Hell & Merzbow is out now on Profound Lore Records and is available as a digital release and 2xCD digipak edition.It should be noted that the 2xCD digipak edition features a bonus disc entitled Sister Faun, which is predominantly Merzbow’s handiwork. Unfortunately, the version I’m reviewing is sans the bonus disc.
As a fan of both hardcore (and all it’s extreme variants) and noise I was very much looking forward to this album. I was completely floored by Full of Hell’s previous album, Rudiments of Mutilation and while being a devotee of Akita’s for some time now, I’ve always gravitated more towards the collaborative Merzbow ventures (especially his work with: Genesis P. Orridge, Porn, and John Wiese). So this seems like something right up my alley….oui?
Once again Full of Hell delivers a ferocious full-length assault that is over and done with at EP speeds. For the record, this is their most powerful and brutal statement yet. With over half the tracks barely eclipsing a minute, you know what you’re in for. As a Full of Hell release it delivers the goods in spades. However, as collaborative effort with one of the most prolific figures in the noise genre, I find it to be less effective. Make no mistake, this is a Full of Hell record first and foremost. Their caustic blend of hardcore, grindcore, power violence, and death metal, dominates the album.
While Merzbow’s presence is felt, his imprint is largely sparse and muted. In truth, there’s really only 3 tracks where Akita’s contributions are overt. It’s not really until the fifth track “Raise Thee, Great Wall, Bloodied and Terrible,” that Merzbow is nakedly unveiled. A fluttering synth sound collides with percussive electro-acoustic elements and piercing feedback, while angry vocals howl in the distance. It acts as an extended intro to the the following track “Thrum in the Deep,” a slow paced piece with chunky metal riffage and scathing vocals. The other overtly Merzbow infused piece is the album’s penultimate track, “Ludjet Av Gud.” A swarming mass of dense atmospherics swell over a repetitive percussive beat. Angry goblin vocals toil in the periphery, as someone rummages through broken glass shards. While fine as a stand alone track, it once again feels more like an extended set up the album’s final rager, “Fawn Heads and Unjoy.” Over and out in 1:23 it’s a final statement of sonic rage played at break neck speeds. Some sputtering oscillator sounds squeak through in the track’s final seconds and then it’s lights out.
All in all this is a really great album. It kind of touches on all aspects of extreme music that I know and love. My only qualm is that I wish Merzbow’s presence would’ve been a bit more obvious throughout the duration. Perhaps, if it was billed as Full of Hell with special guest Merzbow, rather than as a full on collaborative work, I wouldn’t make anything of it. Of course if this version I’m reviewing had the bonus disc, perhaps my perception would’ve been changed. Regardless of my small qualms, this a definite keeper and one of the more memorable releases I’ve heard this year. Another crushing effort by Full of Hell.