Full of Hell's 'Garden of Burning Apparitions' is a Glorious Whirlwind of Extreme Music

BY Chris BrysonPublished Sep 29, 2021

Often the best extreme music — and perhaps much of the best art — comes from broken-down emotions, those fashioned from fear, pain, chaos, rage and the tortured and vulnerable spirit behind it all.

Maryland's Full of Hell have built a career within these spaces as grand prolific purveyors of cathartic sonic violence. Their last two full-lengths, 2017's Trumpeting Ecstasy and 2019's Weeping Choir, and their collaborations with experimental metal duo the Body (2016's One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache and 2017's Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light), are some of the wildest releases in extreme music, careening through noise, grindcore, hardcore, sludge, black and death metal, and imbued with hearts of darkness. Those twisted worlds presented Full of Hell as at their best when leaning into more diverse influences and creative directions, and cramming intricacies into already dense music.

For their new LP, Garden of Burning Apparitions, Full of Hell have continued down a similar path to present some of their most remarkably jarring work yet. Full of Hell have always been a band requiring repeated close listens to truly take in the complexity behind the madness. With every release, they've remained close to their core influences while continuing to find ways to blend new depth into their sound, and Garden of Burning Apparitions is a finely crafted hellscape.

Produced by Machines with Magnets' Seth Manchester, this dynamic, uniquely flowing record hits devastatingly hard, and guitarist Spencer Hazard, bassist Sam DiGristine and drummer Dave Bland make blazing magic at ferocious speeds. Fans of the band and the genres they swerve through will have plenty to enjoy, as Full of Hell remain a jolting, mutating juggernaut. "Guided Blight" is an opening salvo in true Full of Hell form, with a minute-long grindcore assault of relentless screams, barks, blast beats and buzzsaw guitars, while "Murmuring Foul Spring" starts slow and expansive before ripping into chunky riffs and frantic staccatos and then dissolving abruptly after a momentous caveman showdown.

Throughout the record, vocalist Dylan Walker examines a variety of fears about existence, society and religion through dark, fantastical poetics employed with an expressive range of growls to high-pitched shrieks and strange contortions in-between, like the monstrous tones of "All Bells Ringing," and "Asphyxiant Blessing," where it aptly sounds like he's singing while pretending to suffocate before shifting into deep roars as the band drops into a crushing, doomy coda.

Clocking in at a whopping three minutes, the album's second-longest song "Derelict Satellite" feels like a more intense spiritual predecessor to Weeping Choir's similarly lengthy "Rainbow Coil," featuring caustic distortion, muffled screams and harsh, metallic clanging in an immense wall of sound. It paves a fiery trail to the jarring mayhem of "Burning Apparition," one of the record's standouts. Veering through monolithic riffs, searing guitars, death roars and bursts of grind, it's an absolute whirlwind of a track that's over much too soon, although probably appropriately so.

"Industrial Messiah Complex" evokes the album's title with fractured vocals that flitter like ghosts aflame, paired with whirling guitars and monstrous, heaving riffs. For "Reeking Tunnels," Walker has cited Shellac and Cop Shoot Cop as influences, and the resulting potent noise rock groove is filled out with a grunted chorus and spiralling guitars that weave around deranged, sputtering, spectral chanting. "Celestial Heirarch" ends the album as if the band were completing a lively summoning, where a furious frenzy of shrieks, growls, drums and heady guitars reach a demolishing finale before descending into whirring electronics.

Versatility and variety remain at the crux of what makes Full of Hell so enthralling, especially when it comes to tempo and style, and Garden of Burning Apparitions is in no shortage. While scanning the state of the world and all its grievous, haunting wonders, Garden of Burning Apparitions continues Full of Hell's exploration of scorched earth, and by sticking to what they do best, they've left another bold stamp on extreme metal.

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