Back in 2008, when the majority of death/doom metal fans were still stuck listening to Paradise Lost’s opus Gothic or to the early works of Katatonia, very few had discovered a gem in Fulfill the Curse. A decade later, the Finland-based cult act Hooded Menace have become one of the most captivating death/doom artist in the community by delivering consistently well-written material with every release. The start of 2018 sees the release of the band’s fifth and most cohesive full length recording yet – Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed.
Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed marks an interesting transition in Hooded Menace’s ever-evolving sound, as the band veers deeper into old-school death metal territory than ever before. While not totally leaving behind the darker doom-oriented sound of Darkness Drips Forth, it takes the tempo up a notch, bringing in elements of European death metal akin to Asphyx and Bolt Thrower. Album opener “Sempiternal Grotesqueries” wastes no time to establish the album’s tone. Lasse Pyykkö’s shattering riffs create an atmosphere of death, and ex-member Pekka Koskelo’s drum beats (Otso Ukkonen joined the band after the album recordings) clear the path ahead. The ten minute-long track (the longest on the album) builds from a dreary pace before breaking into a war-driven frenzy of double-kick drums, and bounces back and forth from that point on. Moreover, the new team member Harri Kuokkanen blends in perfectly from the get-go, as his screaming-at-the-world growls plod along with the tracks ups and downs to perfection.
As intimidating as death/doom metal may feel to some, “Cathedral of Labyrinthine Darkness” takes one on a monstrous crawl with such charm that it can completely engulf any listener. The lead guitars take on a melodic yet sad tone, which, when coupled with the crushing bass lines, brings about an atmosphere filled with gloom and despair. “Charnel Reflections” perfectly exemplifies the music on Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed, as it builds its pace with subtle layering of riffs, as faster riffs slowly build upon the foundation of crunchy doom-laden guitar work. No moment feels rushed; instead, each moment feels extremely significant in the overall song structure, pulling in the complete attention of the listener, an art Hooded Menace seem to have perfected over the last eleven years.
Praise must be given to the production on the record, handled by Jaime Gomez Arellano (who also produced the last two Paradise Lost albums – The Plague Within and Medusa). The album manages to maintain a raw old-school sound, while still having a very clean modern production. Moreover, each instrument is discernible to an attentive listener, and adds its intended effect in a well-staged manner.
The album title Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed literally translates to a vault of bones with no features and with an air of unholiness, and this seems quite apt for the music on display. The album, with its rich songwriting and structure, evokes a completely bleak yet dreadful response in the listeners mind. A wicked air looms over it, as Hooded Menace combine different musical styles with elegance and panache, making Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed a force to be reckoned with. An absolutely essential listen!
Notable Tracks: “Sempiternal Grotesqueries”; “Cathedral of Labyrinthine Darkness”; “Charnel Reflections”
FFO: Paradise Lost, Asphyx, Spectral Voice
One can follow Hooded Menace through Facebook to be updated on future tours and studio material. Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed releases on 26th January on Season of Mist. It is available for purchase/streaming on Bandcamp, and physical copies can be ordered from the Season of Mist Store.