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For Whom My Wallet Tolls - 98%

autothrall, January 14th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Season of Mist (Digipak)

From its horror-kitsch Razorback origins through the more morbid and somber death/doom that most would recognize, Finnish act Hooded Menace has always stood out as one of the most memorable in its style. But even knowing that, even frothing at the bit for past works like Fulfill the Curse, Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed, Effigies of Evil or the mighty Never Cross the Dead from 2010, I could not be prepared for how damn epic and unforgettable an album Lasse and company were about to unleash with The Tritonus Bell. Consistently crushing and catchy, having arguably the best production in the band's considerable catalogue, this was a record that unhinged my jaw upon initial release, and never let up through the rest of 2021, becoming my undisputed champion to help stave off a year of global and personal uncertainty.

This is just one of those 'total packages', locking in its atmosphere, musicianship, packaging and songwriting to the degree that many classic albums of my youth once did. I've heard others refer to this as a King Diamond of death metal, perhaps for the obvious reason that Andy LaRocque was on production here, but also the horror themes, the purple cover art might draw you back to an album like The Eye, and most importantly, the quality. Sure, it's a stretch, but replace the falsetto shrieking with growls, and the flashier heavy metal with superbly constructed death/doom grooves, and you might arrive at a place not too far from The Tritonus Bell. At the same time, I also hear a lot of Candlemass, Mercyful Fate grooves and even peak mid-90s Amorphis. The melodies and harmonies abound, leads are well-plotted to create an emotional impact over the drudging chords, and most importantly, like many of my fave albums in any sub-strain of 'doom metal', it understands that its compositions do not require an insufferable amount of slowness and repetition to wring despair from its audience. Hooded Menace has never really shied away from incorporating influence from traditional heavy metal or melodic death, but here the hybrid finds it strongest balance, and you get a masterful tune like "Blood Ornaments" or "Corpus Asunder" as a result.

Don't get me wrong, the album is still largely representative of its predecessors, but there's a dash of colorization here I haven't really felt since the sophomore album, with songs that are even better. Harri's gutturals are impressive despite any lack of range, and the drums are fantastic, but its the guitars that endlessly deliver throughout the 44 minutes, from the inaugural mild shredding of "Chthonic Exordium" to the super earworm finale "Instruments of Somber Finality" which I honestly wish was a lot longer because it totally hooks me. The production is top notch as it inevitably would be with this man in the booth, and while it might not focus too much on the cult and camp horror concepts like their earlier albums, this offers a more sobering, powerful escape into a shadowy, sinister necromantic universe. Mandatory stuff. Fuck, buy a copy for everyone you know, and turn their sunny skies upside down with morbid amusement.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Chime Diabolicus - 89%

33 RPM Chaos, November 26th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, 12" vinyl, Season of Mist (Limited edition, 3 colors)

Finland's Hooded Menace is easily one of the strongest doom death bands going right now. Throughout their fourteen year career they've shown an incredible level of consistency. I personally enjoy how diverse Hooded Menace's discography can be, especially their recent releases. All of their albums are still doom death, Hooded Menace just likes to explore how to fit different styles of death and doom metal into their music. Not many doom death bands are this versatile, which is a large reason why I'm a big fan of this band. On August 27th Hooded Menace released their sixth studio album, 'The Tritonus Bell', via Season of Mist.

'The Tritonus Bell' again shows why Hooded Menace are some of the strongest and most innovative songwriters in doom death. This time around Hooded Menace continues their recent trend of exploring how diverse doom death can be as a genre by incorporating plenty of new influences. Gone are the funeral doom leanings of 2015's 'Darkness Drips Forth' and the shimmery, ethereal feel of 2018's 'Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed'. On 'The Tritonus Bell' Hooded Menace looks to doom metal's traditional roots for inspiration. Bands like Cathedral and Candlemass seem to have been in principal songwriter Lasse Pyykkö's recent listening. The traditional doom influences are most evident in the guitar riffs and the less harsh tone of this album. The traditional doom back bone of 'The Tritonus Bell' actually makes it Hooded Menace's most accessible album. It has a much cleaner sound than any of their previous albums.

Hooded Menace brings back many of the staples of their sound which keeps things familiar for longtime fans. My favorite Hooded Menace staple is definitely the killer main riffs in their songs. They're always simple, catchy and, combined with the smooth guitar tone used, a dominant part of Hooded Menace's sound. 'Chime Diabolicus' and 'Those Who Absorb the Night' have two of the strongest main riffs on the album. The riffs on this album are some of the catchiest this band has done to date. 'Those Who Absorb the Night' was firmly stuck in my head after just one listen. On the first listen the amount of groove becomes readily apparent as well. 'Blood Ornaments' and 'Scattered into Dark' are just two examples of the great death metal groove on this album. The strong catchy riffs, combined with the strong groove makes this album accessible and a lot of fun to listen to.

'The Tritonus Bell' features a slightly cleaner, more inviting production than modern doom death bands typically utilize. The production brings out the chunkiness of the riffs and emphasizes the groove in several of these songs. Overall 'The Tritonus Bell' feels like a blunting of some of the death metal harshness and ugliness that Hooded Menace is known for and embracing a cleaner doom sound. Death metal is still present, especially in the harsh vocals and chunky groove but this album is definitely less ugly than a typical death metal album. Unlike their last two albums, 'The Tritonus Bell' is a fun, more energetic listen.

The only problem I had with this album was the somewhat awkward ending. The nine minute penultimate track, 'Scattered into Dark' has a slow fade out to nothing that has a sense of finality to it. This song is followed up with the instrumental outro track, 'Instruments of Somber Finality'. It feels unnecessary and awkward after the outro of the previous song. I don't find this choice bad or offensive, it leaves me scratching my head more than anything.

'The Tritonus Bell' is a great doom death album. It's simultaneously heavy and accessible. Hooded Menace fills this album with plenty of catchy riffs and some great groove to bump your head along to. It's a cleaner, more fun album than I typically expect from Hooded Menace. The traditional doom influence is a nice addition to Hooded Menace's formula and helps this album stand out from the rest of their discography. If you're new to Hooded Menace or even the doom death subgenre, this is an excellent place to start.

Originally published on my facebook blog, 33 RPM Chaos

Menacingly Tritonus - 95%

Goblinite, November 15th, 2021

Seeing the terrifyingly ghastly album cover for Hooded Menace’s latest album intrigued me immediately and I was without a doubt not disappointed by the contents. The Finnish death-doom titans perfectly intertwine the death to the doom without being some half-assed death metal band trying to play slow. At some points, delving into the realm of melodic death added another spanner into the works of this pure horror movie track album which I for one quite enjoyed. The album took me on twists and turns through its subtle change of tempo creating a terrifying unpredictable atmosphere all while the tritonus bell tolled. Gritty guitars and bass and pounding drums expertly write the recipe for death-doom perfection. Clocking out at a signature Hooded Menace 8-track, 50-minute album, it was well worth the listen.

I know album art isn’t an important factor for some metalheads, but I for one was drawn in by this cover like the pied piper. Hooded pied piper perhaps? The creativity behind the design that so effectively captures an intangible atmosphere is well worth a quick mention. This art alone deserves a photo frame above my CD player.

As for the music itself, the subtlety of weaving in and out of tempos while maintaining a constant atmosphere has to be my favorite technique employed throughout the album. It is done to an exceptional standard and solidifies what the death-doom genre should be. With just one fill from the almighty drums, the band will slow down as the guitars come in to create a beautiful melodic atmosphere before the band may turn around and mortify the atmosphere once again. Songs including “Blood Ornaments”, “Those Who Absorb The Night” make the album’s length well worth the experience because of this unpredictability. The melodic harmonies pair exceptionally with the slower parts of the album, flawlessly creating a more ominous tone to unite with the creeping rhythms.

Of course, when Hooded Menace turn the dial up on the tempo, the intensity creates an exciting listening experience. The bass is a constant, chugging, gritty steamroller that blends beautifully with the creatively-written guitar riffs that are more than headbang-worthy. This nightmarish combination builds the sinister atmosphere promised by the album cover, which I again reference because it is one of the most creative album covers I’ve seen, at least in my opinion. The drumming solidly provides a foundation for this atmosphere without being too excessive while still remaining interesting with some solid fills and tempo changes. Given the reliability of cymbals for the slower parts of the album, the drummer avoids becoming redundant, keeping it engaging from track to track.

The deep bellowing growls of Hooded Menace are, at least for me, the most impressive performance across this album. The slow and mighty cries are truly frightful. I love a good vocal performance, but to say these were impressive is an understatement. I can imagine the bell-toller on the album cover to be the one singing in this deathly tone. They serve their role well in creating the dread of The Tritonus Bell, and as does everything else, they never over nor underperform.

The Tritonus Bell was for me a fantastic proper introduction to death-doom, having not explored the genre much before listening to it and after delving into more death-doom, Hooded Menace still remains a top-tier band for me. The album is superbly crafted together and has an eager competing spot for my album of the year. The variety builds an unpredictable atmosphere of death and terror that will certainly keep you engaged if for whatever reason you haven’t listened to this album yet. The Tritonus Bell itself is pure terror in musical form, unnoticeably alternating between fast and slow tempos with hypnotizing melodies that are sure to leave your death and doom fits of hunger satiated with each listen.

Phantom Menace - 82%

Sweetie, September 16th, 2021

Finish death metallers Hooded Menace only recently came to my attention because of their latest release The Tritonus Bell. Little to my knowledge, they actually have a pretty hefty back catalog that brought them to where we are now. Being on Relapse before entering Season Of Mist, they’ve bred themselves out of the doom/death parents without stepping too deep into the cavernous howls of the unsettling kind. In other words, it’s actually rather accessible for its style.

A lot of this is likely due to the fact that it’s pretty melodic. But what’s nice is they disperse this into different melody formats instead of allowing itself to fall under “melodeath” by using horrible guitar tones and generic writing. Some songs take the galloping riff approach, others are gonna grab the leads and hoist them above the mix. Hell, even the vocals feel like they rely a little more on clarity than you would expect, which says a lot. Picture something along the lines of Amon Amarth but without the Norse bells (ha) and whistles.

What tops The Tritonus Bell off is the band working these in and out in phases to make for longer songs where every part is necessary. You could argue that “Blood Ornaments” didn’t need to be nine minutes, but I respectfully disagree. (At least) three different times it strays into either a solo, a bridge, or a melodic tangent that feels organic before returning to that galloping hook. “Corpus Asunder” takes a similar route but starts off with the leads and introduces a monstrous bass-heavy crawl. Speaking of bass, get a load of its full fury on "Scattered Into Dark." Funnily enough, the shortest of the bulk “Those Who Absorb The Night” actually hits the doom aspect on the head the heaviest.

Have we heard stuff like this before? Absolutely, and maybe some of it could have been trimmed back. But nothing about this is blatantly much, and I definitely dig it. As someone who really dives deep into the moist depths of this genre in its most extreme form, a change of pace is nice. Five tracks of thunderous melodies caked under a burning umbrella with quick endcaps makes for a fine time!

Originally written for Metal Inferno

A new chapter has been written! - 95%

thrashmaniac99, August 31st, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Season of Mist (Digipak)

For the past thirteen years, Hooded Menace has been making statements in underground extreme metal with their horror-themed brand of putrid, cryptic, and brutal death/doom metal. I first discovered this band thanks to Blayne Smith from BANGERTV and I haven't regretted it at all. Fantastic music, evil guitar tones, and memorable riffs. I own two of their albums in my collection (Never Cross the Dead and Effigies of Evil) and I love those albums. So, when I heard Hooded Menace had a new album coming in 2021, I got excited. Now, it is here, The Tritonus Bell has arrived.

This album was produced by Andy LaRocque of King Diamond and it shows as everything was amped up times eleven, production wise. I love how this album begins with a melodic intro track, "Chthonic Exordium," as it reminds me a bit of Metallica to an extent. As the track ended with the thunder and the backwards growling, I knew I was in for quite a ride for the next 40 minutes. Tracks such as "Chime Diabolicus," "Blood Ornaments," "Those Who Absorb the Night," and "Scattered into Dark" retain Hooded Menace's trademark death/doom sound, while adding in some classic 80s' heavy metal melodies that remind me of bands like Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, and Judas Priest. While tracks such as "Corpus Asunder" had more galloping grooves attached and less of the doom atmosphere of the rest of the album. However, it still represents diversity within the album as far as songwriting goes. Even the cover of W.A.S.P.'s "The Torture Never Stops" was quite unique as they took an 80s' glam metal track and made it into their own.

At times, this album felt like a melodic death metal album, while other times, it felt like an old school death metal album. It makes for a wild rollercoaster ride of a listen. The guitar tone is thick and heavy. The riffs are quite memorable on here as well. The drum work is excellent. The bass tone is filthy and chugging. The vocals sound like a mixture of Dan Swano, David Vincent, and Corpsegrinder, which is quite the unique combination for a vocal style. Before Harri Kuokkanen became the vocalist, Hooded Menace had Lasse Pyykko on vocals, and his vocals were more reminiscent of Frank Mullen, Peter Tagtgren, and Mikael Akerfeldt. I love how Harri brings in his own flare to the vocals and doesn't try to do what Lasse did before. This album especially, Harri's vocals shine through.

Overall, The Tritonus Bell is about as perfect of an album as you can get. As I wrote this review, I ordered the album for myself. For those who love death/doom reminiscent of Asphyx, Autopsy, early Paradise Lost, and Coffins, you will love this album. Buy it if you can.