Hooded Menace – “Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed” album review

Fall Into The Cascade of Ashes

Hooded Menace was formed by Lasse (also known from the cult Finnish death metal band Phlegethon and death/grinders VacantCoffin) in the summer of 2007. In June 2011 Hooded Menace signed to Relapse Records. They are looking to spread their music to fans of totally heavy and ultra-crushing doom and old school early 90’s style death metal. The death/doom overlords have plotted their return for January 26 with new album “Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed”

Undoubtedly, the toughest task for a death/doom metal band nowadays is to sound unique and take up an identity that is entirely one’s own. Hooded Menace however, have clearly succeeded in doing so. Even a first glance at the album cover conveys at least some of this band’s uniqueness. It seems to depict a minimalistic drawing of a haunted cave.

“Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed” opens with a repeating atmospheric guitar tune that chills the listener to the bone. Slowly, the seriously crushing riffs come in, setting the tone for a very dark and very intense album. The riffs are played at a tempo that is the very definition of doom, even when the drums follows a slow pace.

The album immediately grabs you with the first song, no intros, no build up, just all guitars blazing in “Sempiternal Grotesqueries” with Harri Kuokkanen suffocating growls taking center stage.  The rhythm section lingers appropriately in the background, accenting the dynamics and laying down an overall mass of doom death metal perfection.

Tracks such as “Sempiternal Grotesqueries” and “Cathedral of the Labyrinthine Darkness” explode out of the depths, where cavernous death metal collides with exquisite doom.

Whereas “In Eerie Deliverance” rides a heavily accented mid-tempo groove, “Cathedral of Labyrinthine Darkness” slows things way down, multiplying their abysmally sludgy riffage with melodic accents and much darker lyrical approach.

In all of the seven songs and almost 45 minutes of death/doom music, Hooded Menace develops catchy and far more antiquated riffs, reaching back to the ancestral dawn of Sabbath as channeled through Autopsy. Kuokkanen’s vocals serve this atmosphere, being tonally rich but rotten to the core with a benumbing attitude of deepest horror. Viscous doom songs such as “Cascade of Ashes” mirror the band’s affinity for slow acting poisons and hold the heavyweight versions of Lasse Pyykkö riffs.

The partially minimalist riffs appear as pinpoint stitches, while the full sound comes as something much immense which leaves a trail of devastation. No doubt, the perfect production sets the right frame for Hooded Menace massive aggression. The sound of “Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed” is not better nor worse than that of its predecessors and this can be understood as a great compliment. A strong production quality is not surprising, diving into the musical components one would think that Hooded Menace has done just what they have, which is to be among the realm of doom death metal output heirs.

This album is solid, the music integrates tunes of pure distortion alongside some heavy drums and growling. From the first song to the last, it’s never really letting up in the intensity factor. Pure aggression and great atmosphere not to mention that the tempos are mostly rhythm guitar oriented.

“Charnel Reflections” was the first single release and the song is the quintessence of the entire album.

There are  tempo changes here, but it’s mostly in the vein of  guitar riffing spitting out some venom in their creation and quite admirable to say the least. I particularly love the slow pace and the picking which explodes on here. I only have very good things to say about this album here. The music is filled with overtures that devastate the listener and destroy the speakers. There’s a combination of growls alongside low bellowing pieces that give you more variety. It’s amazing regarding the guitar/drum work here.

I think that the most intrinsic points of the album are the combination of death-like vocals mixed with vivid guitar riffs plus the crunch tone on the bass are riveting. It sets it aside from newer bands that are in the death scene. There really were no super high speed guitar work, just mainly rhythm backed up by the atmospheric keys. There wasn’t a song on here that I disliked, I think all were an invigorating, epic and melodic guitar with degrees of utmost sound aura. I think that this was the main focus Lasse Pyykkö’s concept for the album was to be.

For me, the highlights are the guitars. They’re so epic and lucid, with a conglomerate of melodic guitar to the core. This one though is like a transformation for the band. With it’s almost psychedelic atmosphere and tons of metal, this album brings comfort and rage sensations at the same time, a true evidence that fine art is not opposed to violent music.

The song “Charnel Relfections” is also the first time the band have broken their silence on what specifically inspired them. The  guitarist Lasse Pyykkö’s comments about the song:

“Initially we had decided not to reveal the horror movie sources behind the lyrics on our new album; to avoid any preconception for the listener, and because none of the lyrics are directly based on any movies but just inspired by movies – a big difference right there. But, for the sake of the approaching Halloween, let’s make an exception to our rule and expose the movie that inspired the lyrics of “Charnel Reflections”: it’s” Demons of the Mind” from 1972. The lyrics are very much a flow of consciousness, quite surreal and metaphorical. The movie is just a starting point – an inspiration, so to speak. I guess the underlying lyrical theme is madness. I particularly like how the music glides from one mood to another with a smooth, determined flow to it – it’s calm and also savage – and I think, this reflects the lyrics rather nicely. This track is my new favorite in the Hooded Menace catalogue, which is rather cool thing considering that we’ve already reached our fifth album. Hooded Menace has always been all about memorable tunes, but I feel that we have fine-tuned our approach on “Charnel Reflections”– as well as on our entire new album.”

When I am listening to this album I feel like I hold an important piece of art that I could put in a secret vault and get it out when I really need it. There are very few bands in the world that would produce something with such a high quality these days. It’s even nothing missing and maybe if there were at least one or two more songs, my rating of the album would be even higher.. When you leave this aside, “Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed” is actually the most you could want from this genre.

BANDCAMP

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9.3
  • Music
    10
  • Production
    9
  • Artwork
    9
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