Full of Hell : Coagulated Bliss

Full of Hell Coagulated Bliss review

It’s impossible to discuss Coagulated Bliss without taking into account Full of Hell’s past three years. In the span of time it’d take one band to tour, write, and record a new album, they released collaborative albums with Primitive Man and Nothing, a three-track EP, and a split with Gasp. You’d assume they’d want some time off but that’d impede their perpetual forward motion, so not long after completing their album with Nothing, When No Birds Sang, they returned to the studio to take what they’d picked up during the sessions. While Nothing acquired the patience to let a moment sit and marinate, Full of Hell came away with a different impression—they realized that there’s room for a little pop in noise-influenced death-metal adjacent grindcore. 

As such, Full of Hell’s sixth studio album is catchier than any of their other works. That’s not saying much if you’ve ever heard a song from the Maryland six-piece, so it must be stressed that Coagulated Bliss is outright catchy. It’s no doubt strange because when they were working with one of the best hook factories in shoegaze on When No Birds Sang, Full of Hell were disinterested in immediate pleasure. Yet, less than six months after making their quietest album yet, they figured out how to write songs about addiction and filling a gaping emptiness that still get stuck in your head.

To be clear: Full of Hell have in no way, shape, or form become a pop band. There are no sugary sweet choruses or anthemic sing-alongs on Coagulated Bliss. They’re still as prickly as ever and, in some ways, even more challenging, but they are undeniably more immediately appealing, all while retaining their intensity. The album doesn’t shy away from what made them Full of Hell. In fact, some of their inherent qualities strengthen their newfound pop interests. For instance, most songs are still less than two minutes long, accentuating their addictiveness. Why would you want to deal with verses, bridges, and outros when you could have supercharged hooks? In most cases, Full of Hell wring everything they can out of an idea, making tracks like “Transmuting Chemical Burns” more satiating than they should be. 

In reality, Coagulated Bliss is more of a lesson in best practices, as there isn’t a single trait the group now possesses that’s changed their sound; there are three. The guitars are sticky, the mixes are less cluttered, and the overall tone is warmer. The title track is a microcosm of all these adaptations: an 80-second proof of concept of how to make the most disfigured music into car-radio bangers. None of them are massive overhauls to the group’s aesthetic, which is why the record belongs in the Full of Hell canon. They’re noticeable for sure, but are as much of an experimentation as any of the group’s other ventures. 

These aspects apply to most of the songs, but not all of them. “Fractured Bonds to Mecca” and “Bleeding Horizon” come off as if Full of Hell stubbed their toes in the recording studio and are stumbling their way to the end. There’s a lack of power propelling these slow-burning cuts, so they feel perfunctory and obligated in the face of the rest of the album. It’s especially apparent when comparing them to “Armory of Obsidian Glass” from Weeping Choir, another lengthy cut that was intimidating and menacing because of its slow-paced and daunting stature among other shorter tracks. “Bleeding Horizon” is similarly slow-paced and daunting, but it lacks the oppressive atmosphere of “Armory of Obsidian Glass” and, resultantly, feels skeletal and limp. “Fractured Bonds to Mecca,” Coagulated Bliss’ fourth track, suffers from a similar fate despite running only a fraction of the length as “Bleeding Horizon” because it kills all momentum the first three tracks generated. The issue isn’t that it and “Bleeding Horizon” are slower; it’s that they lack gusto. They also take up over a third of Coagulated Bliss’ runtime, and that weight is felt. 

But Coagulated Bliss is perhaps better judged by the absolute number of ideas it executes well. Certain cuts find Full of Hell sharpening their blades like the closer “Malformed Ligature.” It returns to their dismal roots as it pairs doom metal with grindcore. Jacob Bannon’s guest feature brings the track to a You Fail Me send-up driven through Full of Hell’s kaleidoscopic eyes. “Malformed Ligature” caps the album off with reassurance that the missteps do not paint a bleak picture for Full of Hell and that the poppy ventures are not a sign of the endtimes. On Coagulated Bliss, the group displays how they adapt when in a vacuum and separated from larger-scale collaborators. Though not without its growing pains, the album is unlike any other Full of Hell release, and it’s a worthwhile change. 

Label: Closed Casket Activities

Year: 2024

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Full of Hell Coagulated Bliss review

Full of Hell : Coagulated Bliss

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