Full of Hell and Nothing
Like wolves of the same pack separated at birth, outliers instinctually recognize one another. After twisting and turning through the underground on parallel trajectories, the separate paths of Full of Hell and Nothing collide on the collaborative LP, When No Birds Sang [Closed Casket Activities]. At this meeting point, Full of Hell—Dylan Walker [vocals], Spencer Hazard [guitar], Dave Bland [drums], and Sam DiGristine [bass]—and Nothing’s Domenic “Nicky” Palermo [vocals, guitar] and Doyle Martin [vocals, guitar] burst out of genre confines together with a sound that’s equally dangerous and dynamic.
“Both Full of Hell and Nothing deal with the same genre-phobia,” laughs Nicky. “We’ve been called any style you can think of, but we’re both simply intent on making soul crushers.”
“We’re beyond limiting ourselves to a genre,” agrees Dylan. “There aren’t any rules, but there’s clearly an identity. No matter what Nothing does, I can tell it’s them. We’re meeting in the middle where it’s lush and beautiful, but also sad and ugly if you look closely at it. Out of mutual respect, we just decided to go for it.”
Nothing and Full of Hell initially crossed paths in the twenty-tens, sharing the bills of shows and festivals intermittently. Dylan and Nicky kept in touch over the years, and the collaboration naturally followed. Together, they built a new “wall of sound” in the middle out of Full of Hell’s abstract and harsh ambience and Nothing’s searing shoegaze tendencies—conjuring extreme peaks and valleys inspired by the likes of My Bloody Valentine and latter day Swans.
“We’ve never done anything like this,” Nicky goes on. “The contrast is huge as we’re putting two extremes together and making them work. We’re just bridging the gap.”
The musicians notably wrote face-to-face in Ocean City, MD and collaborated in-person as much as possible. Eventually, they entered the studio with GRAMMY® Award-nominated producer Will Putney. The atmosphere contributed to the energy of the record itself.
“I was super happy to be in a room and not just throwing shit back and forth online,” Nicky states. “I have such a hard time when I’m not staring down the barrel of a gun. Being in a room with these guys brought everything into reality.”
“It’s way more productive,” Dylan says. “This was the first time any of us had worked with Will. His resume speaks for itself, and he definitely added a great perspective.”
The collective introduce this body of work with “Spend The Grace.” An unnerving melody gives way to cathartic growls atop a sparse beat. Guitars buzz beneath gritty vocals only to spiral out into trudging distorted crescendo.
“We put the song together as we went through this experience,” recalls Nicky. “The whole record built itself as it moved.”
Then, there’s “Like Stars In The Firmament.” Nicky and Doyle’s breathy deliveries barely cracks a whisper through a haze of evocative guitar melodies, floating towards an airy exhale.
“These two tracks lean towards each band’s side a bit more than the other,” Nicky elaborates. “Nothing put a foundation down on ‘Like Stars In The Firmament’, and Full of Hell put a house over it—and vice versa.”
“It’s an emotional record,” adds Dylan. “Once we decided on the concept, we followed a similar approach. We’re bringing you to this edge of an empty void.”
Yet it feels good because it’s undeniably real. “When you hear it, I hope you feel devastated emotionally,” Dylan leaves off. “If we’re doing our job, it will freak you the fuck out in the best way, because you’re staring at the precipice of oblivion with us.” “‘Devastation’ is a good reaction for me,” Nicky concurs. “From top-to-bottom, this record is highly comprehensive and super detailed. For me, the process itself was humbling. Every once in a while—with doing music for the better part of my life—experiences like this sometimes erase the imposter syndrome I feel playing music, and for a moment I forget how big of a loser I am,” he grins.