Review: Full Of HellCoagulated Bliss

243
0
Share:

Full Of Hell‘s quality collaboration with Nothing last year left a lot of questions unanswered for the Maryland outfit, a broad and spacious record that was thematically appropriate for a band at something of a crossroads in their career.

The band’s consistency and work ethic has made them one of the most prominent names in extreme music. The evolution seen from their A389 debut to now, through a decade-plus of surprising critical crossovers and a long list of collaborations, saw a band that had seemingly pushed their sound as hard as they could.

Coagulated Bliss comes three years after Full Of Hell’s last record, Garden Of Burning Apparitions, a record that felt as if Full Of Hell reached the limits of their sound—a solid, ripping album that nonetheless felt at times as though the band were tapping dry their style. That they spent 2023 releasing three collaborative records (the previously mentioned Nothing alongside Primitive Man and Gasp) that were far slower and more ponderous is reflective of this, almost as if through those collaborations they were piecing apart the elements of their sound, reflecting on the minutiae of their style.

Coagulated Bliss sees a pivot in style and tone for Full Of Hell to something more math-y, cohesive and subtly melodic, a record that feels less like a disparate array of extreme influences and more a sum of everything Full Of Hell have done before, rooted equally in noise, powerviolence, American hardcore and sludge metal.

“Half Life Of Changelings” introduces the record with a searing, melodic guitar riff that gives way to the band’s now-signature dueling vocal battle. The guitar riff hints at the album’s less dense elements, trading in pure aggression for a little more pace and measure. “Doors To Mental Agony” starts with a mid-paced, encroaching riff before exploding back into chaos. That same mid-paced rhythm returns at the end of the track, showcasing the track’s dynamism.

“Transmitting Chemical Burns” has a slick rhythmic breakdown in its latter half, giving it a pronounced mathcore feel. “Fractured Bonds To Mecca” taps into Full Of Hell’s power electronics background without explicitly becoming a noise track; the distorted rhythms are built upon with effected guitar loops, alongside a focus on acidic, hostile atmosphere. The title track, “Coagulated Bliss” is a complete 180, frenetic and caustic while also being one of the catchiest tracks in Full Of Hell’s discography—like if Coalesce made a pop song.

“Bleeding Horizon” makes up the bulk of the album’s runtime, a 6-minute piece of sludge/noise corrosion. It’s very tentative in its pacing, only truly exploding near its climax; it has this mindless, thudding pace that feels monumental, and a strumming pattern that feels written by a caveman in the best possible way.

The pace is quickly picked back up with “Vomiting Glass” and “Schizoid Rupture”, the latter of which makes slick use of an ascending-descending scale structure that gives it a fittingly maddening sound. Following on from this is “Vacuous Dose”, a track that really solidifies how much larger Coagulated Bliss feels in scope; its subtle harmonic flair and massive production contribute to how it overwhelms in a different, less abrasive way than earlier records—in relative terms, at least. It’s an album focusing on sheer weight and overwhelming pressure. Less ear-bleeding shrillness and more death-by-pressing force.

“Gasping Dust” is the first of two tracks to feature major collaboration, here with Immolation‘s Ross Dolan. It’s probably the most rhythmically distinct song on the album, with its juxtaposed staccato and tremolo writing bringing to mind a track like “Crawling Back To God” or something. The second collaboration, “Malformed Ligature”, sees Converge‘s Jacob Bannon help elucidate the sludge/mathcore patchwork of Coagulated Bliss in a track that feels like the DNA of a thousand different Deathwish bands warped and stitched into something fresh. Sandwiched between those is the less outwardly significant “Gelding Of Men”, a track whose repetition and rigidity of writing might make it feel inconsequential, but it’s so fucking heavy I can’t dislike it.

It’s probably too much to say Coagulated Bliss is a shot in the arm for Full Of Hell, a band so consistently solid that a good record seems almost clockwork, but it really feels like the band have tapped into something fresh while remaining thematically and musically cohesive in the breadth of their discography. It’s easily the band’s best record in half a decade, one that progresses their sound while retaining the spirit of their early material.

Ultimately the album artwork from Brian Montuori defines its sound to me as much as words can: imagery that’s bright but ugly; colorful but unpleasant; undefined but recognizable details camouflaged by extremity. One of the best extreme metal records of the year.

4/5 Flaming Toilets (Full) ov Hell

Coagulated Bliss is out now on Closed Casket Activities.

Did you dig this? Take a second to support Toilet ov Hell on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!