Full Of Hell – Coagulated Bliss Review

[Cover art by Brian Montuori]

In the past 15 years, Full of Hell has unleashed 46 different releases on the world. Sure, a smattering of those are compilations, box sets or live albums, but a majority are original material from a band that refuses to sit still. What sticks out among that lengthy Metal Archives listing, in particular, are the eight collaborations they’ve participated in. In fact, just last year they released two different ones with Primitive Man and Nothing (and a split with Gasp for good measure). That sticks out because it’s a clear indicator of the band’s desire to regularly push themselves and their sound in new directions. Participating in a split is a great way to be exposed to variety, but to truly write alongside another band to create a combined new thing is a whole different beast. That fascination with moving the needle is ever-present within their own works as well. If you were to play their debut, Roots of Earth Are Consuming My Home, right before a fresh spin of Coagulated Bliss, I wouldn’t begrudge you the guess that these are two different bands. That isn’t to say that the core of blistering grind, heavy doses of ear-rending noise, and a heartbeat of hardcore have disappeared; it’s more so that the band’s perpetual, iterative process has yielded something that feels fresh within the context of their discography. I’d even go so far as to say that album number six is equal parts career retrospective and new directions.

Release date: April 26, 2024. Label: Closed Casket Activities
The past three albums turned into a trilogy for the band, sharing sonic qualities along with black and white cover art from Mark McCoy. Beyond the look and sound, the lyrics unified the pieces as well. Trumpeting Ecstasy launched the trilogy with what felt like a huge experimental leap forward for the band under a solo moniker while leaning more heavily into their death metal influence. Then, the run ended with a more streamlined battering that felt like a nod to their origins with Garden of Burning Apparitions. It would appear that after taking such an exhaustive undertaking, the band was ready to start with a fully blank slate. The most immediate element of that fresh start is the clearer production of Coagulated Bliss. Don’t worry; this isn’t a stale brand of clean with acoustic guitars around the bonfire deserving of the John Belushi treatment. No, it’s the kind of crisp and full sound that highlights a more technical approach. Think more of Gridlink’s Longhena rather than the heftier wall of noise assault they’ve had for the last several years. The influence of Gridlink isn’t a sonic one alone, the opening riff to “Half Life of Changelings” is right out of the Takafumi Matsubara playbook.

Before highlighting this album’s other major new element, I beg you to stick with me. There is a distinct amount of the heyday of metalcore in the late ’90s/early ’00s oozing out of Coagulated Bliss. It first pops out in the bouncy lilt of “Transmuting Chemical Burns” but persists regularly throughout. The title track sounds like they may have given Steve Brodsky a call to consult. The angular riffs of Botch hammer into “Vomiting Glass” and “Vacuous Dose,” which also features a practically upbeat hardcore bounce sure to alight many a pit. “Malformed Ligature” even sounds like it could fit as easily closing this album as it would appearing on the next Converge record, making Jacob Bannon’s guest spot on the track all the more appropriate.

The irony of what may seem like a drastically different influence is that this still absolutely feels like a Full of Hell album. While Bannon was thrust into a song that suits his typical style, Ross Dolan’s guest spot roars between a blazing grinder that would’ve been at home on the band’s blistering collaboration with Merzebow. “Fractured Bonds to Mecca” sports Godfleshian drums and noise rock riffs that have skittered in and out of their sound since the first collaboration with The Body in 2016. The lengthy “Bleeding Horizon” that splits the album in half leverages sustained notes and the kind of slow doomy riffs that made Full of Hell an appealing match for Primitive Man and Dylan Walker’s guest appearance for The Acacia Strain last year. Even the punctuated hardcore shout-along elements that pop into one section of the opening track harken to their earliest works.

Full of Hell is consistently eager to collaborate with other artists, and they have always folded what they learn from those experiences into the works that fall under their banner. What really makes Coagulated Bliss stand out is that it feels like the band was able to take many of those past collaborators and put them in a room with multiple copies of themselves from different eras and even some of the musicians that likely inspired them to start a band in the first place. This album is a celebration of what they started as, where they’ve gone, and who still inspires them today, but it remains a distinctly Full of Hell album through and through.

Posted by Spencer Hotz

Admirer of the weird, the bizarre and the heavy, but so are you. Why else would you be here?

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