Album review: Full Of Hell and NOTHING – When No Birds Sang

Existential terror titans Full Of Hell and NOTHING overwhelm on monumental collaboration…

Album review: Full Of Hell and NOTHING – When No Birds Sang
Olly Thomas

Full Of Hell are old hands at the art of collaboration, previously buddying up with the likes of The Body, Merzbow and Primitive Man, as well as engaging in side projects like Sightless Pit and Eye Flys. And while their chaotic grindcore might seem poles apart from the black hole shoegaze of NOTHING, it turns out the two bands have more in common than Pennsylvanian origins. In their own distinct ways, they both sound like the end of the world, and this jointly-created album sees them gleefully pulling preconceptions out of shape.

The monolithic power chords, feedback and bloodcurdling shrieks that usher in ironically-titled opener Rose Tinted World might suggest a fully-in-charge Full Of Hell, but things get quieter and weirder halfway through as gently strummed chords prevail and samples of newsreaders build into a disconcerting hubbub. By contrast, the shimmering slowcore of Like Stars In The Firmament sounds like a particularly autumnal take on NOTHING’s signature sound, while the brooding ambience of Forever Well could soundtrack nocturnal cityscapes – until surging guitars and Dylan Walker’s unmistakable rasp take it into something resembling blackgaze.

With a spectral sound hinting at early Mogwai and My Bloody Valentine’s more austere moments, the title-track is a fuzzy treat, but it’s the climactic Spend The Grace that proves the most potent product of this alliance. After an intro that sounds like a piano being played wrongly in several different ways simultaneously, with Domenic Palermo offering understated vocal accompaniment, the closer shifts into the driving heaviness of post-reformation Swans. Somehow bearing the imprint of both bands while sounding like nothing from either back catalogue, it’s an overwhelming finale to an impressively varied team-up.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Deafheaven, Swans, Envy

When No Birds Sang is released on December 1 via Closed Casket Activities

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