Dylan Walker is the most vicious frontman I have ever seen. In Montreal last night, at Bar Le Ritz, he opened the set of Full of Hell by piercing the air with a screeching wail that sounded as animal as it was human. Hand raised and frozen in the air like some demonic conductor before his orchestra, his voice slowly descended into the guttural hellish implosions that make Full of Hell the grindcore band you need to hear.
Despite this freakish climax, the vibe over the course of the night was a bit tame at the Ritz leading up to the final act. Fans had packed in to see local acts Patent, and Apes starting the night. Members of these bands would occasionally call for more intensity or a spinning mosh circle from the crowd, but either the space or the energy wasn’t there. The fans remained mostly in place, fists raised and ears absorbing the music. There was a lot of intensity of music to absorb, for certain, yet the level of physical jostling, whirring and stomping excitement never quite occurred.
American act Gatecreeper took the stage and the tone shifted to something even more sombre and atmospheric than before. Hailing from Arizona, the band gave their characteristic head-banging intensity right off the bat. Frontman Chase Mason sporting what was must be one of the top 3 ‘staches in grindcore, leaned hard into the mic and let rip with a jaw-clenched rage of songs like ‘Desperation,’ and ‘Dead Inside,’ ending their set with the more recent ‘War Has Begun.’
Watching Dylan Walker, head vocals of FoH, you might feel conflicted. Introducing the band’s belting cacophonies of rage as dryly as saying “This song’s about aggressive gentrification,” he’s charming, almost refined. Yet, as he thrashes around, limbs arcing through the air, it’s so primal you’re not sure whether you’re watching a child or an artist. Is this the star-seed dance of a genius or just someone channeling a mini-temper tantrum from his childhood? Perhaps it’s a bit of both.
Hailing from parts Pennsylvania and Maryland, the wall of sound is supported by four corners Dave Bland on drums, Sam DiGristine on bass, and Spencer Hazard on guitar. Brace for impact, as all dabble with synthetic backing effects. Yet once the storm has passed, and the band cuts the music and caps the song, whatever your thoughts, Dylan puts the monster back inside the box, and reverts instantly back to normal, with a perfectly civilized ‘thank you.’
Full of Hell Setlist:
Branches of Yew
Barb and Sap
Thrum in the Deep
Crawling Back to God
Review – David Loach
Photos – Steve Gerrard