Tuesday 7 November 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: The Body & Full of Hell - "Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/11/2017
Label: Thrill Jockey

The Body and Full of Hell have created an album not easily forgotten

"Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light" CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Light Penetrates
2. Earth is a Cage
3. The King Laid Bare
4. Didn't the Night End
5. Our Love Conducted with Shields Aloft
6. Master's Story
7. Farewell, Man
8. I Did Not Want to Love You So

The Review:

Split 7-inchers are everywhere. For great reason: they're easier for bands to issue are less costly than solo pressing, and they keep one's name out there. In the case of experimental metal act Full of Hell, though, it is not enough to simply put out music with others. The quartet, which pitches punk, death metal, noise, black metal and avant garde into its blender, has generated lots of attention for full-on collaborations with others, to impressive results.

Full of Hell's 2014 recording with Japanese noise master Merzbow was widely hailed as a superb achievement. The collab was easily one of the most indurated pairings in recent memory; its ultra-short tracks clocked in at under a minute, and were nothing less than an airplane propeller of bluster and apoplexy. Full of Hell followed that effort up with "One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache," a 2016 collaboration with Providence, Rhode Island sludgers The Body. It turned out to be one of last year's better albums, showing up far better than most probably expected at least. The Body and Full of Hell return as a Legion of Doom once again, with this year's "Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light."

Much like "One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache," The Body and Full of Hell combine for a sound on the upcoming album that is related to doom and sludge in only the slightest ways. You may hear a chord here or a muddy bass there. Rather, "Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light" is definitely more in the wheelhouse of Full of Hell, for fans of its intense brand of grindcore. Even if that is not quite for you, extreme music aficionados are sure to find something they like in disparate efforts included in "Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light."

What has always distinguished Full of Hell as well as The Body is boldness. The groups are willing to permit genres you would not normally hear together very often, including industrial, a touch of electronic and, of course, mountains of hard guitars. "Light Penetrates" the opener, is a great instance of this. The oscillating guitar and drums quite nearly brush an indie vibe until the blitzkrieg vocals and curtain of sound crash in. As they build to a crescendo, those screams are going to stick with you. The vocals get even fiercer on "Earth is A Cage," which features its own unique effects. Presumably you are hearing The Body's Lee Buford's hand with some of the unusual elements. The Body has had its own nondenominational relationship with sludge, and has been seemingly more open than many to diversify its arrangements. The bands merge to creative music with impact on this track.

"The King Laid Bare" is among the release's most abrasive cuts, and it is seemingly where the release starts its most furious stretch. Where the Merzbow disc was unmatched in volume and "One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache" set a standard for the pairing's fervor, this song and "Didn't the Night End" raise the bar. However, instead of pure bombast, The Body and Full of Hell amalgamate the harsh guitars, drums and dissonance with noise rock trappings that ramp up the constriction you feel as you listen. It is hard to overstate just how taut that gets in "Our Love Conducted with Shields Aloft," where the drums are teeming and the screaming mirrors a sort of mania that rattles you from all directions.  When that trance-sort-of drum machine and in/out effect assaults you, it's pretty much over.

There are moments when the experimentation takes a little getting used to. "Master's Story" feels like a Ministry outtake that doesn't quite work as well as it sounds. "Farewell, Man" slips into this mode too. Fortunately enough, Full of Hell and The Body get back on track in time for the closing, "I Did Not Want to Love You So." It meanders through a doom or drone energy until it slams into its final note. Chances are, you will get into "Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light" understanding it will not be your typical metal record. The Body and Full of Hell make good on your assumptions, and make an album not easily forgotten.

"Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light" is available to preorder/buy here

Band info: The Body || Full of Hell