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Full of Hell and Nothing - When No Birds Sang (Album Review)

Monday, 11 December 2023 Written by Will Marshall

Photo: Caleb Conner

On the surface, acerbic powerviolence outfit Full of Hell and shoegazers Nothing have essentially that in common. But appearances can be deceiving.

Having charted parallel courses through the US underground, the two have finally collided on the collaborative record ‘When No Birds Sang’. The first thing that’s immediately obvious here is this isn’t just one band featuring the other — the two groups have found a way to enmesh their approaches to creating soul-crushing music.

Rose Tinted World screams into view with lurching guitars and ferocious howls from Full of Hell’s Dylan Walker. Midway through, the rage disappears in a haze of sampled voices and minimalist chords.

‘When No Birds Sang’ doesn’t go where you expect it to. Like Stars In the Firmament brings Nothing’s contemplative guitar haze to the fore in an arresting, sombre song that’s a beautiful counterpoint. It sounds like another record entirely. 

But the collaboration truly shines when Nothing’s ambience is countered by Full of Hell’s savagery. The opener is one example, but Forever Well walks the same tightrope, growing from shoegaze beginnings to a colossal, post-metal conclusion before collapsing in on itself. 

Closing on lead single Spend the Grace reaffirms just how fascinating this tie-up is, with samples washing up against sludgy doom and shuffling snare. Walker’s screeches are impactful every single time they’re utilised, melding the quiet moments with scabrous, heaving hardcore. 

‘When No Birds Sang’ is a stunning achievement, proving Full of Hell are just as at home with the blissful shoegaze of Nothing as they are with fellow noise extremists Primitive Man. This is harrowing, beautiful, essential listening.

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