Hooded Menace - Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed

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Season of Mist Records
Produced by Jaime Gomez Arellano

Finland's Hooded Menace have been at the front of death/doom metal for the last decade, releasing album after album of heavy, sorrowful tracks that stood out from their peers. With their fifth offering Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed, they don't quite shake up their tried and true formula, but there's enough new angles in the record to still seem fresh in a sometimes-stifling genre.

Beginning with 2008's Fulfill The Curse, Hooded Menace took cues from Autopsy's slower, more doomed-out songs and released full albums of them; extremely down-tuned, slow and groovy death metal with hints of doom. 2015 brought Darkness Drips Forth, which had the band finally moving more towards a heavy doom sound, but still incorporating the death metal roots they had come to be known for. Hooded Menace follows this path even further with Ossuarium.... The death metal is still there, but this might be the first full-length release from the band which sits squarely in the "doom" half of "death/doom."

Opening track Sempiternal Grotesqueries is about as close to "standard" Hooded Menace as the group gets on this album - whereas tracks like In Eerie Deliverance and Cascade of Ashes have a gothic/doom feel to them, not so unlike their countrymen Swallow The Sun. It's not so much about the power of the almighty riff anymore, and creating a gloomy atmosphere with melody behind the madness is just as important now. Charnel Reflections even starts off with guitars that wouldn't sound out of place on an Explosions In The Sky album - blasphemous? Or just trying new things?

Ossuarium... is the full-length debut for new bassist Antti Poutanen and drummer Otso Ukkonen, and just the second Hooded Menace release for new vocalist Harri Kuokkanen. Their performances are just fine - no one would notice any change in the lineup unless they went looking - which is a good thing. One nitpick, perhaps, is the mixing here seems to favor the drums and vocals just a bit too much. It'd be nice to hear the heavy aspects of the guitars a little more when they're riffing, but it's not a huge issue.

Hooded Menace's standing in the current death/doom scene remains largely unchanged with Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed. They forge slightly off the beaten path (the path they themselves pretty much created) but it's not enough to drastically altar expectations or results of the album. A fine, if arguably unsurprising, entry into one of the best discographies of the last decade.

Tracklist: Sempiternal Grotesqueries / In Eerie Deliverance / Cathedral of Labyrinthine Darkness / Cascade of Ashes / Charnel Reflection / Black Moss

Photo(s) by: Pasi Nevalaita

Written by Jackson May
More: 2018, Albums, Doom Metal,

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