Maryland/Pennsylvania four-piece Full of Hell are much more than just a hardcore punk band. Their sound incorporates elements of grind, noise, sludge and doom, as well as black and death metal, but it's the raw emotion ― anger, hate, hopelessness ― that they exude through haunting tones and an ominous atmosphere that makes them truly special. Full of Hell's latest LP, Rudiments of Mutilation, takes what they created on their 2011 debut, Roots of Earth are Consuming My Home, to a harsher, darker and more aggressive level. In an interview, vocalist Dylan Walker talks about the new album and how it compares to their debut, as well as the band's extremely unique sound and the importance of the live performance.
How do you feel your new album, Rudiments of Mutilation, compares to the band's debut LP, Roots of Earth are Consuming My Home?
Since we recorded that first LP, we have been able to get a much better handle on the types of sounds that we want to present to people. I think Rudiments is a much harsher and unfriendly album. It is not as easy for someone that's not into ugly music to get into this record. We are far more confident with this record than any before it and I'm really pleased with how it came out, on every level.
Having built up a name for yourselves over the last few years, especially after the release of Roots of Earth are Consuming My Home and the Gaza/Code Orange Kids tour, did you feel any pressure going into the writing process for the new record?
There is always pressure from an introspective standpoint. We're always trying to explore new sounds and textures and sometimes it's difficult to figure out how to articulate what we want. On the other hand, we were also unsure how the album would be received. We never really expect any kind of reaction, so it's always a surprise when people are receptive to it.
Musically, Rudiments of Mutilation takes band's sound to the next level, in the sense that it's still distinctly Full of Hell, but it's more intense, dark and aggressive. Was that a conscious decision, or a natural progression?
Even before Roots of Earth had been released, we were already pushing hard to go into more extreme directions. That's always been the intent for this band. It was both a conscious decision and a natural progression.
You're labelled as a hardcore band, but you mix in a lot of different styles into your music, which is what makes it so unique. What are your influences? How do you describe your sound?
I think the hardcore punk label is important. We've always held the ethics and community as something that's important to us, even if we play a mix of extreme styles of metal and other shit. We are influenced by a whole lot of music. Unique sound and atmosphere. A lot of death metal, grindcore, noise rock, electronic music and power violence definitely influences our sound. I've been describing the band as "grinding death in the form of hardcore punk."
Lyrically, is there a concept or theme behind Rudiments of Mutilation? Where do you draw inspiration for your lyrics from?
I don't have a specific inspiration for lyrics. I just try and draw from my surroundings. Rudiments centres around the awful dichotomy between human suffering and euphoria. I drew on personal experience and fiction.
There's a darkness to both the music and lyrics that is specific to Full of Hell. Where does that evilness come from?
I don't know anything about "evil." The way we perform and write is cathartic. We want to create ugly music and harsh atmosphere that makes you want to kill yourself.
Full of Hell is known for an intense, energetic live performance. Is performing live an outlet for your aggression?
The live performance is really important. I don't think we are that crazy, but it's important that you perform with passion. All of the bands I grew up in awe of were always that way. I can't enjoy a band that does not put everything they have into their set when they play.
Does the relatively young age of the band members have anything to do with the sense of angst that comes through in your sound?
We aren't that young, and I don't think that age is that remarkable. People our age and younger have been making much better music since the birth of music. The drummer and bassist are 19, which is kind of young, I guess. Spencer and I are 24 and 23, respectively. Youth has nothing to do with it. The only thing remarkable about our age is that we are fortunate enough to be able to travel before we're middle-aged and buried in debt.
How do you think the band's sound will progress as you get older?
I can only hope that it becomes inaccessible to everyone and eventually gets pegged for causing people to hurt each other.
What's next for Full of Hell?
Touring until the end of time. We are also planning two split LPs for 2014.