I’d never refer to myself as a massive sludge or noise fan, so you may be wondering why I picked this up for review? Well, one reason is sometimes it’s good to challenge yourself, and the other – I like Full Of Hell. I’ve been a fan of their dark, nasty, brooding (but super-fast) grindcore for a while, so I was gearing myself up for a split record in the traditional vein. What I got instead was something undoubtedly challenging but ultimately more rewarding. This is a collaboration in the truest sense, with both bands sharing both ideas and practice spaces to create a collective vision that’s even darker than their respective individual efforts.
I’ve seen Primitive Man live, so know how bone-crushingly heavy they are, but admittedly, have never listened to them on record. I think a lot of extreme music is at its most effective live, especially ultra-slow stuff, so I don’t find myself listening to it that often. As expected, opener Trepidation For Future Joys crawls its way out of the speakers at the speed of a stoned sloth, and is very much in the vein of past Primitive Man efforts. It manages to capture that gut-lurching live sound that I remember well and is certainly a tough listen for those like me who don’t generally tend to throw on a bit of Throbbing Gristle or Merzbow over breakfast.
In stark contrast, after a brooding intro, Rubble Home offers up some pacey blast-beats and screaming, undoubtedly the track where the Full Of Hell contingent most obviously make their presence known, at least in the style I’m more familiar with. It’s impactful in a completely different way, which I guess is one of the points of this release. For the most part though, it’s another feedback-laden disembowelling, and gloriously nasty. Bludgeon continues the brief increase of tempo – a sub-thirty-second noise/blast piece that takes us nicely into the last two tracks, which are the record’s highlights for me.
crawls its way out of the speakers at the speed of a stoned sloth…
Cranking up the nihilism to even more dismal heights, Dwindling Will opens with ominous feedback and more noise scapes. It then steps more than capably and effectively into ambient territory and is positively loaded with emotion and atmosphere. Think Swans at their most dirgy, and you’ll get the idea.
Indeed, Tunnels To God takes this Swans homage to even greater heights, announcing the record’s twilight with an ambient noise section that establishes the kind of haunting soundscape that Michael Gira and company create so well. It eventually gives way to super-slow, scream-laden sludge but still keeps its emotion and impact. Things end in a tortured, extended feedback dirge, which is only right of course. It manages to distil a little of everything on the release into one track that is by far the standout for me.
Being purely objective here, the whole thing does come across as a tad disjointed and if everything was in the style of the last two tracks, I think I would have enjoyed it more. That’s not to say I didn’t, but I don’t think five tracks is enough to get over some of the other elements included, particularly tempo and mood. That said, this is an engaging record that demands attention and will most probably appeal to fans of both bands, as well as noise-heads who may not have heard much from either.
Scribed by: Simon Brotherton