Company: Profound Lore Records Release: 2010 Genre: Doom Reviewer: Raising Iron
Never cross the dead
Ah, Finland, home to a slew of doom metal giants and now skulking out of a Scandinavian crypt rises another--Hooded Menace. With their sophomore release entitled Never Cross the Dead, the dealers in doomed decomposition lurk throughout the Eastern borders of their homeland seeking to possess and plunder the souls of unwitting victims careless enough to blunder blindly into the tethered dark.
Like the first album, the lyrical retreat rests squarely within all things horror; hell, there's even a song called "The House of Hammer", a direct tribute to the long-running horror movie outlet. But never mind all that, what really triggers the fear factor is the music. Using doom metal as their foundation, the guys meld pseudo-thrash riffs with death metal flairs into the premise, erecting a caustic medium with which to expose their fiendish nightmares.
Most death/doom metal releases of yore exhibit a claustrophobic production, adding to the plight of the listener, but here, things are uncannily bright. That guitar tone just jumps forth from the speakers, and as well no singular instrument suffers being buried in the mix. Yes, it's all death growls used to righteous effect; again, adding to the horror shtick presented and these too are layered nicely atop the nasty chug of the guitars. Such a production often works against the effect seeking to be achieved, but on this it somehow works, as if one is carrying several torches through the darkened halls of an old castle, illuminating in striking fashion the evils which abound. Closing the album with a metalized version of the theme from Return of the Evil Dead is a slight stroke of genius, encompassing everything the band has conveyed in the last 51 minutes.
I have to say as a dedicated and long-time fan of this genre, I've been a bit burned out on it lately, finding it increasingly difficult to discover anything fresh, but Hooded Menace has given me hope. With stripped down compositions, the band using the less-is-more approach, and letting the atmospheric presentations work their wonders on the senses, the guys have taken great pains to warn the listener to never cross the dead!
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