Listening to Full of Hell is a great way to purge darkness from your soul. From the outside, the Maryland grindcore band’s music probably sounds like an invitation to darkness rather than an exorcism—they take the challenge of making “extreme” metal very seriously, and as such they push a little bit farther into the realm of chaos with each release. On 2017’s Trumpeting Ecstasy, they proved themselves an impenetrable force of nature, the kind of band whose sound is so imposing and relentless that the simple act of listening to it is like a strenuous workout. There’s a reason why their releases often don’t go much longer than a half-hour—if that. They take a lot out of everyone involved.
Weeping Choir is no different in that respect. Taken in a single sitting, it’s an overwhelming and constant blast of sheer extreme metal firepower that offers few moments of reflection or restoration. Yet everything moves so fast, it’s hard to get a sense of one’s bearings at any moment without some kind of tracklist or playlist reference. These 25 minutes are a constant barrage. There are changes in tempo, there are shifts in style, and there are experiments aplenty. But none of them allow for an escape from the swarming darkness that Full of Hell conjures. They simply change the shape of the invading formation.
If any of this sounds in any way like a problem, well, it isn’t. Not even a little bit. On some level, Weeping Choir is a less experimental album than its predecessor, or for that matter the various splits and collaborations that Full of Hell have participated in over the years. But the songwriting itself, menacing and explosive as ever, showcases a broader range. Leadoff track “Burning Myrrh” goes back and forth between apocalyptic doom, breakneck blastbeat assaults and blistering go-for-the-throat hardcore. The roaring “Thundering Hammers” finds a mosh-pit groove, which is essentially what Full of Hell sounds like when slowed down about 50 percent. “Rainbow Coil” is the band’s heavy filter of noise with the actual metal part removed, and the end result is surprisingly psychedelic, the echo-laden drums splattering all over.
What Weeping Choir does more than anything is provide pure, distilled catharsis in 90-second increments, whether informed by religion, politics, personal torment or otherwise. But Full of Hell somehow still continue to find new ways to express that. It can be in the form of a seven-minute doom metal hell trip (“Armory of Obsidian Glass”) or it can incorporate some squealing, spectacular John Zorn-style saxophone (“Ygramul the Many”), but the end result is always the same: A soul scraped clean until it’s raw.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.