Very few artists listen exclusively to aggressive music, so in this recurring series, we ask a musician about a band they like that is outside of those worlds, and what exactly it is that attracts them to that band.
In this piece, we talk to Full of Hell, the current Relapse recording artist that has painstakingly progressed from a DIY grind/death metal/hardcore hybrid to a legitimate touring juggernaut capable of breaking websites when it’s time for new LP preorders. The band’s latest effort is Weeping Choir, a violent excursion into Morbid Angel-isms, Bastard Noise-style noise hatred and nihilistic d-beat. With all those influences in mind, it’s fascinating to hear vocalist/noise technician Dylan Walker discuss one of his favorites of right now, the Griselda Records crew.
Hard Noise: Considering your public persona and what people know about your band, who is an artist that you love that falls outside of what your fans might expect from you?
Dylan Walker: I’ve been pretty obsessively into Westside Gunn and the whole Griselda Records movement over the past couple years. I tend to flip between the main 3 guys on any given period of time (Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine and Benny the Butcher). Westside Gunn (WSG) was the first one that stuck with me. He’s a rapper from Buffalo and I don’t think NY’s identity in hip hop nationally has traditionally acknowledged Buffalo in the past, but these guys absolutely believe in their city and make it known. The first time I heard WSG/Griselda from a friend I was completely floored. The way he speaks about his city, his culture and the world in general resonates deeply.
What do you think it is that attracts you to that artist?
Just about everything, to be honest. His output is prolific, something that speaks to me in particular with my own work. It seems like he has a bottomless fountain of ideas and always has a bunch of irons in the fire. The records themselves are very multi-faceted. I tend to gravitate towards the darker/more reality tinged side of the genre and that’s generally where he, Conway and Benny tend to sit. The rhythm is almost always absolutely perfect as well. Their collaborators (people like Daringer and Alchemist) just have a really crucial touch with it. The beats are diverse and generally always warm and raw, which I love.
What was the record that got you on board, and why?
I think the first record from WSG that I heard was Hitler Wears Hermes 2. The whole “suite” of Hitler albums are all pretty amazing, but 2 is a very fluid and cohesive product. It sounds like a future classic.
What is your favorite release from that artist?
The great part about being a fan of an artist that’s this prolific is that your favorite album can change with time. I’ve found things to favor on a lot of the records, but my favorite for some time now has been Westside Doom, which is just a two track collab between WSG and MF Doom. It’s absolutely crushing and grimy, nothing better.
How do you think that artist’s music is applicable to what you are doing with your current projects?
I tend to dabble in non-reality to achieve my goals, while I think that one of the strongest traits of these guys is their ability to keep things very direct and grounded in reality, but still very sharp and poetic. I think all of this is applicable to me because hard beats transcend genre, and some of the work we’ve done outside of organic drums has had us working on slower, down beat style sounds. I think it’s important for anyone that dabbles in any kind of vocal style to listen to as much rap as possible. Rhythm isn’t always something you see in metal and punk vocals, not dogging it at all, but it’s so crucial in this world and these guys are incomparable.
Similarly, what are some other crucial albums to you that also fit the criteria above, and why they are special?
I’m going to list 5 albums that helped open me a bit more to the idea of programmed drums and loops. It wasn’t something I understood as a kid, outside of drum machine grindcore (🤢) and bands like Godflesh.
MF DOOM- MM.. FOOD
MF DOOM is an alien from another planet. I don’t know another rapper quite like him. Experimental in almost every way, incredibly prolific and such insane flow. There are such huge parallels in how people in DIY bands (especially grind/pv) release music and people like MF DOOM. He’s here to make and release music and it flows out constantly. This album is really cool because it’s very dark but still has a strange sense of humor. The beats are really jazzy and the sampling is like nothing else. Classic!!
Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Another English guy. I love the more aggro AT material, but I heard about this because I had read about comparisons to this album and Brian Eno. It’s an easy album for me to sit with almost every day. I think this album oozes aesthetic and is a masterpiece.
Venetian Snares – Rossz Csillag Alatt Született
This guy is fucking insane. All I wanted in high school was the most extreme and the most bat shit off-the-wall insanity I could find, and this hit the mark with the craziest drum programming I’d ever heard, and I still think it takes the cake, honestly. I’ve always enjoyed classical music, so this is a very special album for me, to hear strings and harshly remixed drums smashing together like this. I still love it.
DJ Screw – 3 N The Mornin’
I didn’t really get a lot of southern hip hop until the last few years, but DJ Screw always made sense to me. This guy is like the Man is the Bastard of rap. SO many releases and a true genre pioneer. This is the first album I’d heard and it’s still my favorite, probably just because it’s the first one I got to. Can’t really go wrong though, the catalog is deep. RIP.
The Body – All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood
My friends might make fun of me for this, but The Body has truly been a really big part of me growing as a musician in a lot of different ways. I remember when Full of Hell opened for Thou in Baltimore back in maybe 2011? I hadn’t heard of The Body beforehand, but the minute they started playing it just flattened me. This record is a modern masterpiece. A lot of weird sampling, and even though the drums are mostly real/acoustic at this point, it still has all kinds of stuff going on. Since this album they’ve obviously taken a real deep dive into much more heavily layered and programmed sounds, but this one is the one I’ll always remember as the album that left me speechless.
Photo credit: Reid Haithcock