This time of the year is perfect for certain things. Two of them, in my humble opinion, are doom metal and monsters. That’s not exactly a reach, is it? I’ve been harping on about autumn being the finest time to indulge in doom, and with Halloween capping off the week, bloody, gelatinous, undead, and horrifying creatures tend to be in the forefront. Unless you’re a loser and hate this time of year.
Anyway, today’s band and record could not be arriving at a more perfect time with all of that in mind. Hooded Menace long have pulled their inspiration from zombie movies and all kinds of old horror films that probably would confound people who bombard themselves with today’s offerings of these types of movies. This Finnish band is a throwback to those days, and the doom they conjure on their latest record, the supremely awesome “Darkness Drips Forth,” also should have people harkening back to the early Peaceville Records days. That’s no hyperbole, by the way. These songs wretch doom, slithering with a punishing pace, and even inject some lush melody into the ugliest of settings. It’s one of the band’s best records to date, and it’s also one of their most unexpected.
Hooded Menace have been one of the more consistent doom bands of the past decade, also injecting quite a bit of death metal into their cauldron, as well as the aforementioned hints of horror movie chaos. Having started out in 2007, they quickly made a mark with their 2008 debut “Fulfill the Curse,” following up two years later with the awesome “Never Cross the Dead” (released by Profound Lore domestically), and then jumping to Relapse for 2012’s “Effigies of Evil.” Lasse Pyykko has been at the forefront of this band from the start, handling guitars and vocals. Well, he still is the band’s vocalist in the studio, but in a live setting, it’s different. Along with him, the Menace lineup is rounded out by guitarist Teemu Hannonen, bassist Markus Makkonen (he’s the vocalist for their live shows), and drummer Pekka Koskelo, and they are at their doomy finest on this record, which is a total … monster.
“Blood of the Burning Oath/Dungeons of the Disembodied” is a mouthful of a title, and it’s the album opener, starting with chimes ringing out, only to have guitars bubble up like foam and meet it. In the background, you can hear villagers wailing in agony, as the tempo lurches along and the growls begin bleeding. The track really opens up later, with riffs glimmering, strong leads taking command, and the growls getting more forceful and in your face. The tempo later slows and burns, with riffs lapping over top, the track marching and grinding, and the song disappearing into a pocket of wails. “Elysium of Dripping Death” follows, with a mournful setting being set, and the vocals retching. The track then starts to break apart, letting violence well up. The guitars form a strange wall that has a hypnotic effect, while the tempo boils, giving off mists that add to the surreal atmosphere. The track turns even more dizzying, though at the same time gritty, and the vocals bubble in the back of Pyykko’s throat like a thick film of blood. It’s not long until all the sounds meld together, boil over, and fade away.
“Ashen With Solemn Decay” begins with guitars surging and the rhythms rumbling heavily, and then the growls kick in and make things ugly. The band hits a harder, more aggressive tone, though strong melodies arrive to make your brain tingle, and the clouds open up to let light break through the clouds. Strong soloing causes sparks, while the pace keeps rolling on, with melodies twisting and turning. The growls get mucky, and then each element piles up and bleeds away. Closer “Beyond Deserted Flesh” starts with riffs. Of course. But the growls erupt from there, with the guitars spidering their way through, with mournful and brutal melodies raining down. Things feel spacey and weird, but then everything spill into darkness, with the pace chugging and thick guitars flowing over. Sinewy riffs take hold, the song stretches out its muscles, and cleanliness arrives, almost like it’s pretending the blood never was there, as it all flows down the drain.
Hooded Menace really have nothing to prove to anyone, but instead of rest on their reputation, they made one of the most curious, yet satisfying, records of their run with “Darkness Drips Forth.” There’s plenty of death and doom to keep everyone well fed, and considering we are in the spooky season, these four songs should soundtrack you scaring the shit out of your neighbors. This is a great effort from a band that always seem to have a dastardly surprise up their sleeves.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/HoodedMenace
To buy the album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/store.html
For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com