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Hooded Menace : Gloom Immemorial

An excellent-value compilation of all the hard-to-find Hooded Menace EPs and split contributions.

Looking for a good way to work yourself up before plunging into that decrepit and surely-haunted house at the edge of town? Finland’s deliberate and relentless warhorses of spooky, engrossing and ultra-heavy Doom/Death, Hooded Menace, are here to offer a retrospective, 'Gloom Immemorial', that conveniently collects all their halves of splits, complete EPs (excluding the covers-only 'Neurotic Monuments'), plus the two tracks from the original 2007 demo, 'The Eyeless Horde'. Very handy if you haven’t been able to acquire all eight separate releases (nine if you include the album also represented). Its eleven tracks sprawling a gargantuan 76 minutes, 'Gloom Immemorial' might best be digested piecemeal, given its unchanging musical landscape; Hooded Menace are a band who have yet to feel an urge to evolve this way or that.

Given the band’s consistent quality of recording, style, and quality, there are no jarring differences every few songs. Like an Energizer reaper that just keeps going and going, Hooded Menace serve up one platter after another of house-of-horrors anthems that would make a good alternate soundtrack to the 1992 Sega Genesis game 'Chakan: The Forever Man'. Their characteristic feeling of otherworldliness, of glimpsing into a strange dimension, continues here. At times I feel like I might fall off the edge of the earth if I’m not careful. Yes, this music has something of an escapist feel to it, but upon acknowledging that, it’s to no detriment.

While tempos are certainly not fast, Hooded Menace keep above the agonizing crawl of bands like Funeral, while angular, harmonizing guitars make this a pretty accessible listen: part of why Hooded Menace are a good gateway band for people newly approaching Doom/Death, and 'Gloom Immemorial' certainly makes for an obvious entry point for anyone investigating the band now. Highlights include the morose and melodic 'Chasm of the Wraith' (from the recent 'Labyrinth of Carrion Breeze' EP) and the positively cheerful-by-comparison 'A Decay of Mind and Flesh' (originally by Anima Morte), but there are no duds. It ends on a crushing-as-always note with the Cathedral-esque cavalry-riffing in 'Monuments of Misery', which also showcases some slick dual-guitar work.

The X-factor that lifts Hooded Menace above many of their peers is the conviction they display on multiple fronts at once: entertaining horror imagery, traditional Heavy Metal roots detectable in their music (an appeal also shared by their past split partners, Asphyx), plus a guitar tone that embraces the Swedish Death metal’s Stockholm sound with a dash of the dirty Sludge that we’re used to hearing from Electric Wizard. Murky enough to appeal to fans of Demilich, bludgeoning enough to catch the ear of a Dismember or Bloodbath fan, and hinting at melody just enough to draw in fans of early Amorphis, Hooded Menace keep themselves well balanced without steering too far in any one direction, allowing them to exude an irresistible magnetism in all directions. That 'Gloom Immemorial' successfully brings together seven years of different tracks into a new set that still flows like its own album is a just new reminder that Hooded Menace are one of the most dependable voices going today.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Fulfill The Curse
2. The Eyeless Horde
3. A Decay Of Mind And Flesh
4. The Haunted Ossuary
5. I, Devil Master
6. Catacombs Of The Graceless
7. Abode Of The Grotesque
8. Instruments Of Eternal Damnation
9. Chasm Of The Wraith
10. The Creeping Flesh
11. Monuments Of Misery

Duration : Approx. 76 minutes

Visit the Hooded Menace bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-12-30 by Mark Rzeszutek
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