Finland is home to a storied history in doom metal, and metal in general. The northern European nation has made itself into a hotbed for forward-thinking, inventive heavy music that often challenges metal's tightly-held norms. From Oranssi Pazuzu’s 2016 black metal masterwork, Värähtelijä,to the enduring legacies of funeral doom pioneers Thergothon and Skepticism, the list runs long with innovative Finnish bands across all metal genres.
Enduring death/doom force Hooded Menace settles comfortably onto that list, and deserves boundless recognition for their contributions to their homeland's metallic legacy. Since 2007, guitarist Lasse Pyykkö and his band members have immersed themselves in not just Finland’s own diverse metal culture, but have also taken a heavy dose of inspiration from classic doom metal—music that predates the band by at least 20 years—and that is clearly the case on their new studio album, Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed.
In Hooded Menace’s earliest days, their music was palpably sinister—a menacing, lurching strain of cobwebbed death/doom (see albums like 2010's Never Cross the Dead or 2008's Fulfill the Curse.) That eldritch vibe carries through much of their discography, yet despite their firm footing in the past, Hooded Menace continues to morph and grow. On this new record—which arrives January 26 on Relapse Records—those subtle shifts in style erupt into a gothic flair that dominates the recording. Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed harkens back to the early Peaceville Records days, when bands like Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride( as well as Nightfall-era Candlemass) married the melodic with the macabre.
Take for example, “In Eerie Deliverance,” the album’s second track. Roughly midway through the song, guest vocalist (and Coltsblood bassist) Jemma McNulty's echoing voice reaches out from a cascade of guitar chords, a brief moment of calm before we're swallowed up by a mid-tempo stomp of riffs and polyrhythms. Sections like that lend the trusty, dusty Hooded Menace formula a certain romantic touch that has never truly been present in their music before, and adds an interesting new emotional dynamic.
“I think there’s more emotion, depth and dynamics to the new album than to anything we’ve done so far," Pyykkö agrees. "It goes from ugly to—dare I say—beautiful, and back, and I feel it´s the same thing with the album´s quite spontaneous, darkly poetic lyrics which are more about getting the otherworldly atmosphere across to the listener than being logical and self-explanatory. Oh well, let the music do the talking already. We just wish you can FEEL it.”"
Stream Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed below; preorders are live now, and you can snag it from Season of Mist Records come January 26.
Cody Davis is doomed on Twitter.