Finnish horror doom duo Hooded Menace have made a career out of crafting creepy, muddy songs that pay homage to cult movie classics. That shit that stinks up American movies houses each year? Not even in the ballpark of the films from which these guys draw their inspiration.
Their latest album “Effigies of Evil” goes down the same path as their previous works such as “Fulfill the Curse” and “Never Cross the Dead,” yet they managed to find a way to beef up their sound and make this hulking beast even more maniacal. We were very fortunate to have guitarist/bassist/vocalist Lasse Pyykkö answer some questions about the new record, their examination of vampires (real ones … not that “Twilight” shit), and how he and drummer Pekka Koskelo are enjoying their new relationship with Relapse after spending time with Profound Lore. Oh, and we asked him for some movie recommendations, so if you, too, are sick of this unimaginative “horror” that’s been forced down our throats, you have some answers.
Meat Mead Metal: The new record “Effigies of Evil” is getting ready to drop in the U.S. in September. How do you feel about the end results of the album?
Lasse Pyykkö: I have a very good feeling about the album. It turned out great. There´re more melodies and mid-tempos but it’s still just as devastating as ever. There’s still an unhealthy dose of down-tempo hammering to doom you to death. It’s our most varied and dynamic album to date. The production is also heavier than ever. Of course it’s a bit hard for me to be objective but I’m sure I could tell you if it was radically different. It’s not.
MMM: Seems fitting there would be new Hooded Menace music just as autumn arrives and people prepare for Halloween. Do you endorse people using your music to scare children who are shamelessly begging for treats?
LP: Of course! Turn it out loud and make the pumpkins explode! Let the horror prevail!
MMM: This is the band’s first release for Relapse. How did this relationship come about? Are you happy with the arrangement?
LP: After “Never Cross the Dead” we started getting offers from different record labels. All pretty good offers actually, mostly from well-respected labels, but in the end no one could really compete with Relapse. We have nothing against spreading our music to a bit wider audience if people want us. Apparently there is a growing interest, so it makes sense to have a bigger label to back us up, to grant us better circumstances and chances. Also we’re simply curious to see how it is to work with a label the size of Relapse. We’re devoted to our music, not to any scene, so being on a bigger independent label does not turn our guts. So far everything’s worked fine with them.
MMM: The band often has reveled in horror to make your brand of doom and death, but not exactly the mainstream stuff most people would know about. You guys always dig into the obscure and unknown stuff. What is it about that source material that gives you inspiration?
LP: The atmosphere. I think that’s what I like about those older horror movies. To me it’s usually more about the overall atmosphere than the plot. Gimme a gritty film with an eerie milieu with fog-shrouded graveyard and a castle, and that does it basically.
MMM: You’re tackling vampires with “In the Dead We Dwell,” and you even used clips from the film “Les Seviges de Dragula” for the intro. I assume you are fans of the Karnstein trilogy. True? What about this film made you want to dig into this topic to create this song?
LP: Yeah, I dig those movies! I think “Twins of Evil” is the best in the trilogy, and we wanted to write a song about it. To underline and tune the atmosphere of “In the Dead We Dwell,” we used a sample for the intro. I think it sounds fantastic on the faded-in guitar harmonies. We use samples quite sparsely, and this one seemed to work so well that we just had to use it. It’s not a filler but really adds up. Kinda sets the mood for the song.
MMM: Obviously vampires are now quite trendy in the U.S. — though not the type of vampires you guys are writing about. What do you think of the whole mainstream vampire treatment via stuff like “Twilight” and what it’s done to the genre?
LP: It’s just commercial junk built around pretty faces. I block all this crap from my life so it doesn’t really bother me. There’re so many old vampire films to discover that I hardly pay any attention to what’s “hot” now in the genre.
MMM: There’s a callout to Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” and Vincent Price’s dialog from the film on “Crumbling Insanity.” Discuss this track and its inspiration and what about the story led you to want to shed light on it. Also, for the benefit of our younger readers, explain Price’s influence on the band and what he’s meant to horror throughout the years.
LP: Well, we just wanted to write a song about this classic movie that was right up our alley. It’s just a great match, you know. I figured a sample from the film would be cool for the intro of the song. The one we ended up using was a perfect fit. Again, it really sets the mood. Musically it’s one of the standout tracks on the album. Justin at Burial Offerings is shooting a video for the songs as we speak. We´re really excited about it! The concept of the video is not based on “The Fall of the House of Usher” though.
Vincent Price… well, what can I say? He is one of the horror movie icons. Very charismatic and convincing in his roles. My first horror cinema recollection are Dracula films with Christopher Lee, but Price is right up there in the hall of fame of horror with Lee.
MMM: What movies are you guys currently obsessed with? Recommend some titles for our readers to expand their horror knowledge beyond PG-13-rated popcorn flicks.
LP: I´m always obsessed with “Robocop” and “Day of the Dead” Haha! Not that obscure stuff, but those are one of the films that have stuck for good since the teenager years. I just must watch them every once in a while. Recently I’ve been watching “Suspiria” (again!), “Prince of Darkness,” “Nightmare City,” “Deadly Blessing,” “Cry of the Banshee,” “The Creeping Flesh”… I’m not a “horror professor,” but I’ve always been fascinated by horror just as any headbanger that grew up in the 80s watching “Evil Dead,” “Bad Taste,” “Toxic Avenger” and such. I know people that are basically walking horror encyclopedias, and I’m not to be compared to them. Primarily I´m a songwriter and a music fan. Then come other interests like visual art, movies, etc.
MMM: Explain the band’s creative process. Are you both equally as involved in the creative process? Are one of you more of the creator than the other?
LP: I´ve written all the music so far, and this time our Canadian horror obsessed friends, Tanya and Kevin, wrote all the lyrics for the album. I’m very lazy with the lyrics. It’s not really my thing, but I try to contribute the little I can. I make a demo for every new song, send it over to Pekka, and we’ll take it from there. The demos are pretty complete with drum patterns and all, but of course Pekka adds some of his own touch to it.
MMM: Lyrically, do you all know going into making the record what you want to draw from, especially when it comes to films and stories? Or does that come when the song comes together?
LP: It varies. Sometimes there’s music waiting for the lyrics, and sometimes we’ve a bunch of lyrics waiting for the music to be written.
MMM: What kind of live actions do you have planned to support the album? Any plans for a U.S. tour?
LP: Right now it looks like the first show after the album is out will be Summon The Dead Madridfest in Madrid, Spain. That’s in November though so it might be that something will come up before it. We have already some plans for the next summer like a couple of good festivals and perhaps a little tour in Europe if things click, but that’s all I can tell you for now. No U.S. dates yet.
MMM: Ultimately, what do you hope people take away from “Effigies of Evil”? Would you be happy if people followed your source material as much as your music, or is that less of a concern?
LP: Well, I hope it would be a comprehensive experience to as many as possible. I mean, it’s not necessary to know those movies to enjoy the music, but it adds up if you are familiar with them. I’d like to think that for a fan of that sort of stuff the album will give more. But then again, to each his own. I’m not an elitist, and I’m just happy if people like the music. You don’t have to be a historian specialized in Viking era to like some of those Bathory albums, you know.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/HoodedMenace
To buy the album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/hoodedmenace
For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com/