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On Record: Trumpeting Ecstasy, by Full of Hell

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Bands like Full of Hell don't demand your attention so much as they seem to threaten your life for it. The Maryland grindcore outfit has released three full-length and two collaborative albums, making its mark in the metal world with a chaotic combination of harsh noise and pummeling hardcore. On its latest album, Trumpeting Ecstasy, the band has opted for a slicker sound, brought about in part by producer Kurt Ballou. The addition of a new backing vocalist, whose guttural bellows give the band an element of grindcore classicism, was by no means a bad move, either.

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Compositionally, the band is stronger than ever. Ecstasy is full of honest-to-god riffs, and the cleaner production boosts elements like bass that had previously been relegated to background textures. It's the band's most focused album yet, and in many ways, it's also their most accessible. Despite that, this is not a particularly fun album. The misanthropic dialogue samples from Werner Herzog, for instance, don't make for easy listening. But Trumpeting Ecstasy is easily the band's most accomplished release, and signals the arrival of a bolder, tighter sound.

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