It’s no secret that we here at Gear Gods are huge Full of Hell fans. I named their collaboration with Japanese noise icon Merzbow, Full of Hell & Merzbow, my number two album of 2014, and we’ve been following closely the career of their longtime engineering partner, Kevin Bernsten of Developing Nations Recording Studio in Baltimore.
It feels weird to say this about a band that plays such brutal grind/hardcore, but Full of Hell’s music is a breath of fresh air. Their riffs, ideas, and sonic palette are wholly unique, and though they draw from well-trodden subgenre territory, their take on the style is surprisingly original, particularly on the new record. As I said in my review, they seem to paint in different shades of black – just when you think that they’ve exhausted of an idea or riff pattern, they find a way to expand. Full of Hell, like pioneers Brutal Truth, Napalm Death, Repulsion, and more, plumbs the depths of metal.
We reached out to guitarist Spencer Hazard to learn more about how Full of Hell achieves their brand of sonic destruction:
I’ll start with my guitars. My main guitar currently is my BC Rich Ironbird Pro. It is my first guitar with a real Floyd Rose tremelo system. I thought I would dread it, but now I feel weird using a guitar without one. I changed out the original EMG pick-up for a Seymour Duncan Black Winter. I have completely fallen in love with it. I have two other Ironbirds that are currently being set-up with the same pickups. A NJ series IB with a Kahler and a Platinum series IB with an older Floyd.
My 2nd guitar is an older series BC Rich Platinum Warlock. Everything is stock and I absolutely love the sound of the pick-ups. For as beat up and old as this guitar is, it plays amazingly and sounds even better. I used this guitar for our full US tour last summer with Noisem and Dropdead. A lot of people hate on BC Rich but I think the older models are amazing guitars for the price you can usually find them for.
My 3rd Guitar on this list is my Ampeg AMG-100. This was my main guitar for years up until I started collecting old BC Richs. I have used this guitar on every one of our records starting from the Code Orange Kids split up until the Merzbow collab. I love the weight and tone of this guitar and it’s so simple to change the strings on it. That’s why it was my main touring guitar up until recently. When we travel abroad I usually only bring one guitar, so if this guitar breaks a string on stage and I have no other options I can change it in a matter of seconds and be ready to complete our set.
Now moving on to my pedals. I like to keep my pedal chain pretty simple and I rarely ever switch out things. If I could only have one pedal though it would be my Digitech Whammy DT. I usually only use it for octave drops or for the de-tune feature which I use often during our live shows. I also have used this on such songs as “Lord is my Light” on Rudiments of Mutilation and “High Fells” on the Merzbow collab. It’s also great for live settings because you can get a great noise wall when you mix it with other pedals.
Another pedal I love is my Dwarfcraft SOMMS. It’s probably the most expensive pedal I own, but I use it so often live and for our recordings. I can’t even name what tracks I’ve used it on because I have used it on so many. The thing that drew me to this pedal was obviously the joystick. I love the fact I can stand up and just use my foot to control the tone and during noise sets I can just use that pedal as my main source of sound.
My next 3 pedals are just standard Boss pedals. A bass overdrive, flanger, and super chorus. All of these pedals are most used for noise and interludes during our live sets. I have used them on recordings as well like the super chorus on “Pisces Legs” on ‘Roots of Earth’ and the flanger on “Bone Coral” from Rudiments. The bass overdrive I usually use in combination with the Whammy for noise walls or just obnoxious amounts of feedback. These pedals were all also used on the Merzbow collab in non-conventional ways. I had the flanger and super chorus running through a contact mic, which I then taped it to a cymbal for one track and to a floor tom for another.
Finally is my Radial Bigshot. I absolutely need this pedal. Most of the time my equipment will have a bad grounding or something shorting out and will buzz like crazy, with this pedal I can clean it up some. We like to be noisey live, but for the right reasons, this pedal helps me accomplish that.
Next up are my amps. I’m currently sponsored by Orange so of course everything I run live is Orange gear. My main set up live is two Orange 4×12 standard cabs with my TH100 and an OR50. I got the TH100 because I wanted something loud and with alot of gain. I’m not really a fan of the Thunderverb, and the Rockerverb just doesn’t cut through enough for me. Also with the 3 knobs it’s so simple to use. The OR50 I had no idea I was going to like it until I used one on our last European tour and had to buy one as soon as we got home. I think it compliments the TH100 greatly.
I usually will have the TH100 set pretty gainy with not too much bass, and the OR50 with lots of bass and almost a classic stoner rock tone. The CR 120H I will take on the road sometimes, but I mostly use it for practice and writing. I used to collect solid state heads from Sunn and was a big fan of the Acoustic solid state models, but this has the best tone of any solid state head I have ever played. Its extremely loud and the reverb sounds great on it too. I used the CR 120H alot on the Merzbow record just for the reverb alone. There were even tracks where I plugged a mic into the head and had it up to a drum, then ran it through one of my cabs.
Full of Hell & Merzbow is out now on Profound Lore. Pick up your copy here.