Ten years ago I was far more hesitant to give bands from labels like Razorback Records a chance because I could never predict their quality. For all of the wild amateurish grind, death and thrash mania that came from that label none of it was anything like the debut from Hooded Menace. I’d definitely soaked up tons of doom/death by then but I hadn’t heard an album that really resolved the difference between the two genres so perfectly. They’d combined the allure of cryptic, earthen Finnish death metal and a mix of Peaceville and Rise Above doom influences. The band have come full circle in a few respects while still retaining some of the additional melodicism they’d picked up on in their third album ‘Effigies of Evil’ in 2012. We still haven’t gotten a full return to the traditional Pentagram style doom riffing of ‘Never Cross the Dead’ but Hooded Menace remain strong leaders in high quality death/doom metal.
The clearest points of reference while listening to ‘Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed’ are Paradise Lost‘s pre-‘Draconian Times’ era where their death/doom became modern (for the time) doom metal and October Tide‘s landmark melodic death/doom album ‘Rain Without End’ (alternately the first two Katatonia records). All of that melodic information filters through the heavy crunch of Amorphis‘ ‘The Karelian Isthmus’ giving the listless melodies darker corners to defend themselves from. While we’ve lost some of the glass-gargling and funeral doom inspired compositional thunder of ‘Darkness Drips Forth’ this latest album channels more emotional heft than pure duress. The album feels like a more complete and realized vision of what they were doing on ‘Effigies of Evil’ with more extensive hooks and familiar influences.
The darkest death metal riff on ‘Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed’ always finds its counterpart in a damning, screaming-at-the-sky melody and this not only unifies the style of the album but creates a darkly old school tension that escapes a lot of bands that simply worship albums like ‘Rain Without End’ and ‘Brave Murder Day’. So really, throw out those Forgotten Tomb, Garden of Shadows and Negative Voice records! They’ve been trounced into the bargain bin by this stronger, smarter and ever evolving Finnish death metal outfit. If you’re solely showing up for an extension of ‘Darkness Drips Forth’ you might be mildly disappointed because each track here is seeped in melodic death/doom riffing and doesn’t quite feature the grimy horror of the previous album. For what it’s worth Hooded Menace have produced an album with brilliant clarity, memorable melodic songwriting and they’ve done it without losing the gritty death/doom horror they’re known for. ‘Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed’ is unmistakably Hooded Menace at a new peak in stylized sound and crushing death metal guitar riffs. They’ve set the bar for 2018 impossibly high.
|Released||January 26, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow Hooded Menace on Facebook|
From bones to dust by the sunlight’s ray. 4.75/5.0
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