Tuesday 16 January 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Hooded Menace - "Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed"

By: Andre Almaraz

Album Type: Full Length

Date Released: 26/1/2018
Label: Season of Mist

“Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1.Sempiternal Grotesqueries
2. In Eerie Deliverance
3. Cathedral of Labyrinthine Darkness
4. Cascade of Ashes
5. Charnel Reflections
6. Black Moss

The Review:

“Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed” is the fifth full length album by Finland’s reigning kings of death-doom, Hooded Menace. It also happens to be their first full length release as a five piece unit since their recent acquisition of new member, Harri Kuokkanen, as stand alone lead vocalist. The recording consists of six tracks which combine to make up forty-two minutes of total running time and the scheduled release date by Season Of Mist is January 26th, 2018. It appears that a seventh bonus track does exist on some formats but unfortunately, we did not have it made available to us for this review.

First track, “Sempiternal Grotesqueries,” is the longest running song of the album. This lumbering juggernaut slowly builds up from an epic graveyard crawl which eventually transcends into that classic Hooded Menace gallop, after which we are thrown into a frenzy of double-kick drums and pummelled into oblivion. This song has all the classic cornerstones that we love about Hooded Menace and it bounces our brains back and forth between them all for over ten and a half minutes. It is an all encompassing thrill ride of pure death-doom bliss in such a way that only Hooded Menace can deliver.

Second track, “In Eerie Deliverance,” begins with those signature guitar harmonies which have always accompanied many of the band’s massively haunting riffs. The opening movement has a bit of a twist in its groove and some unorthodox drumming, slightly akin to something Immolation might do - to give you a rough comparison. I feel like this aspect combined with the melodic chorus part make this track a bit of a standout from their usual repertoire. This is a good indication of a band that is continuing to grow and not afraid to take some chances outside of their usual comfort zone which is very admirable. Plenty of melody and double-kick while having minimal guitar soloing make this one an interesting listen for seven minutes and it works very well.

Third song, “Cathedral Of Labyrinthine Darkness,” lets the heavy dirge rumble of the bass guitar take the lead for a few brief seconds in the very beginning and leaves me wanting more. This one in general is a crawling behemoth with so much gloom and doom that it feels like a slimy dense fog is pouring out of your speakers and into your unsuspecting lungs. It is pure suffocating slow death. Fourth song, “Cascade Of Ashes,” creeps in like an undead zombie dragging its decayed carcass across the night’s shadows after a brief acappella vocal line chimes in to start off the number. The central focus point of this track comes in the form of a small break in the middle that leaves only a solitary guitar to ring out some unconsecrated notes that segue into a groovy tribal drum beat. This seems to me as another venture into slightly unusual territory for the band and again, it works very well.

Fifth song, “Charnel Reflections,” much like the opening track is a stroll through the familiar cemetery of the damned that Hooded Menace have worked so hard to create and perfect over the last 11 years. It is another fine example of the band's classic style of riffs and melodies which we, as fans, have come to know and admire. The sixth and final track, “Black Moss,” is an instrumental two plus minute outro that morphs from a heavy driving riff with plenty of guitar soloing into some classical guitar as it fades off and unwinds us from the bludgeoning assault of dust and cobweb covered ancient headstones that have been hurled at us for the duration of the previous five songs.

As always, the musicianship on this album is indisputable metal mastery at its finest and the production is near flawless. Although the vocals are a bit different this time around, but I feel it is not a drastic change and in my opinion, the new vocalist suits the band well. One can only appreciate that Hooded Menace is still growing and changing ever so slightly with each new release but one thing is certain; as long as Lasse Pyykkö is at the helm, they will continue to hold their place at the top of the death-doom subgenre and never grow stale in their craftsmanship. Hooded Menace, to me, is the quintessential death-doom metal band and this album shows that they remain as relevant as ever.

“Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed” is available to preorder/buy here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook