Review – Hooded Menace: Darkness Drips Forth

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  • Bio: "Hooded Menace was formed by Lasse (also known from the cult Finnish death metal band Phlegethon and death/grinders Vacant Coffin) in the summer of 2007." - Bandcamp
  • Label: Relapse Records
  • Release Date: October 30th, 2015
  • Genre: Death Metal, Doom Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Since their formation in 2007, Hooded Menace, Finland’s death and doom metal meistros, have been hard at work. After their The Eyeless Horde demo that year, and the debut full-length Fulfill the Curse a year later through Razorback Records, no one expected the plethora of new material that was to come pouring out in the time to come. Since 2010, they participated in six split releases, issued two EPs, a compilation, and two more full-length albums, eventually signing with Relapse Records somewhere amid that chaos. Now, we are presented their latest effort, a four song album titled Darkness Drips Forth. But is this their most spectacular opus yet, or is this perhaps a regression when all is said and done?

As time has gone on, we’ve witnessed Hooded Menace continue to refine their sound, as well as slowly add more time to some of their performances. Here, we see all those years of progress come to fruition. Darkness Drips Forth weighs in at just over forty-two minutes worth of death and doom metal across four tracks that perfectly capture their home country’s signature sound of death. The rich buzzing of the guitars laced with vile, disgustingly melancholic and anthemic hooks are complimented with a crushing bass guitar presence that peaks as the pace slows. The drums sound crisp and pristine, acknowledging a digital clarity that can be heard in all respects of the album, especially the deep gutturals and moments of layering they have, but the atmospheres being woven tell another tale of some analog interference, meshing together perfectly to create an offering that sounds as unnerving as it is miserable.

That said, every one of the four songs that makes up Darkness Drips Forth are fantastic pieces. “Blood for the Burning Oath / Dungeons of the Disembodied” starts off with a slow Arch Enemy grade introductory anthem just above the ringing of church bells before suddenly stopping to a crowd’s screams, lurching forward like a My Dying Bride composition. Some of the richer melodies that hit by four minutes in flow so smoothly that it feels as though you are being carried along to the realm of the dead before the speed picks up a minute later with gritty horror-fuelled hooks that only continue to make the hairs on the back of neck stand up, while you obediently bob your head along to the hypnotic rhythms and aquatic-like solo not much later that sounds like a far more intimidating, falsetto-less King Diamond passage.

And, really, that easily summarizes the rest of the album’s music landscapes, though some tracks do accentuate other aspects a little more than others. “Beyond Deserted Flesh” often carries itself more like a straight forward death metal cut with some ritualistic overtones to the guitar work and steady double bass kicks of the drums. “Elysium of Dripping Death”, however, takes the depressing, mournful hooks and combines them with the sensation of slowly drifting away against one’s will due to the fluid guitar work that makes up most of the song. However, this is all done in a way that feels a little more on the artistic side of things, and not just meant to bombard the listener with one perception altering riff or drum rhythm after another as a tribal pattern begins to fade as quickly as it appears.

Hooded Menace

But then there’s the shorter track, “Ashen With Solemn Decay”. While it boasts a good amount of depressing material, this one is actually more on the upbeat side of things. The faster pace is met with a number of uplifting anthem hooks for the first roughly three minutes. It’s as if chasing a high in the middle of a massive crash, one that only keeps you in that altered frame of mind for a short time before slamming back to reality among the dank crypts, crippled and broken once more, though still finding the will to carry on and not give up. It’s interesting in how dynamically different the impact becomes compared to the other three, though in no way sounds bad or out of place in the slightest. If anything, it’s more of an odd Opeth inspired piece without the vacant background or clean vocals.

While Hooded Menace may be releasing new material left and right, the quality of what they give their fans is far from fleeting. Darkness Drips Forth is a stunning display of melancholy battling the inspirational, often caving to the dark depths of death and despair despite the will to carry on continuously being discovered. The only gripe to be had about this latest opus is that it does seem to channel material often familiar to works by My Dying Bride and Opeth, but with a stronger grasp of a death metal foundation to keep this four-piece a little more unique in comparison. That said, this is easily the band’s finest work to date, as well as one of the most stunning efforts 2015 has to offer. If you have yet to check out Hooded Menace, then Darkness Drips Forth is the best place to start the discovery process.

Hooded Menace

Digital review copy of this release provided by Relapse Records
via Catharsis PR.