How do you review noise? As an experimental realm of electronics, one that can and has relied on imagery for substance, and one that I believe is partially substantiated by one’s own individual projections and musicological mindset, it lacks the basic tenets of popular form. It lacks, at least in my limited time in the genre, the verses and choruses, solos, and differentiating riffs and melodies that exist in relativity and consensus with one another, that allow the peripheral assets and background necessary to critique and enjoy music of most other sort. Beyond the confines of the rasp and harsh electronic fuzz and distortion, narrative becomes preeminent, and within the direction of the Full Of Hell ethos, the band are able to achieve this in mounds.
Disturbingly personal, Full Of Hell’s lyrical plane by way of vocalist Dylan Walker has flown over oceans of existentialist morose since the band’s beginning, drawing from tales both intimate and foreign. The narrative has shifted from tales of the plights of the working class and of lucid industrialization in “Horus”, “Black Iron”, and “Molluck” to exhumations of personal anguish in “Vessel Deserted”, “Lead Tongue” and “Kopf Meine Vaters”(shortened to “Kopf” for the rerecording on the Calm The Fire split, translated The Head Of My Father) to fraught accounts of violence in “Embrace” and “Throbbing Lung Fiber”. For all of this, FOH NOISE VOLUME FOUR acts as extension and closure.
Those who have ventured to disentomb the confusing and poetic Full Of Hell narrative may have their excavations illuminated by this European Vice interview of the group and this recent CVLT Nation interview, which give a partial glimpse into the death of vocalist Dylan Walker’s best friend(“Vessel Deserted”) and Walker’s familial strife with his father’s alcoholism(“Lead Tongue”, “Kopf Meine Vaters”) as well as the meaning behind some of the art choices on Rudiments. The haunting “Passed Past” brings full circle the narrative of “Vessel Deserted”, a tale first unveiled with the group’s Goldust split in 2011. “Passed Past” presents Walker in drawling spoken word recollecting a night terror in which he sees his deceased friend dead, who is not in recognition of him. “A body of flesh, an abandoned post”. A vessel deserted. The electronics work in blips here not appearing until near end track, emerging like the engineered sound scares of horror films. It’s easily the most authentic and impactful track on the tape despite its length. Drawing its blood within the current sociopolitical climate, “Airstrike 304: Civilians Become Soot” continues along as another account of violence. The noisy track whirrs and whines without a word screamed or spoken, the disconnect as strong as the very act being evoked. Blood mist, inflamed wood, and shattered concrete become contrasted pixels just as shrapnel piercings and engineered explosions become static frequencies in speakers.
“Secular Form” describes itself as “a mirror’s breadth” and comes through with a housefly-like whine of electronics and a pulsating beep similar to a heart monitor whilst being underlined by eerie samples of chanting. The housefly-whine eventually envelops into an awful almost scream-like sound. I have no idea what to make of the track other than the fact that it slightly disturbed me. “Birth Of The Trog” describes itself with the words “A creature approaches…” that I interpret as a humorous addition amongst the bleakness. Perhaps conjuring up the Trognotronic line of electronic instruments made by Eric Wood, I took the track to be along the lines of or perhaps an odd homage to the absurdity of Man Is The Bastard/Bastard Noise tracks like “The Kosher Grimace”, a song which details the Purple McDonald character learning the ethics of vegetarianism and turning on his fast food masters.
The tape closes with an eleven minute epic, “Paint Peels Listless From Every Wall”, a track about the medical condition of catatonic stupor. The track feels the most normal, if that’s an adjective fit to warrant noise, in terms of execution, bursting at every seam with deafening fluctuations of harsh noise. It’s a fitting finish but an exhausting one, carrying the emotional and psychological weight of the previous tracks.