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Hooded Menace: Never cross the dead

20/07/10  ||  Khlysty

… So, like, there I was, drinking the last of my morning coffee, when the door of my apartment imploded and Gurg, the troglodyte next door entered, one hairy arm pulling the freshly dead carcass of a wildebeest –coming, most probably, from the nearby zoo, the other holding an extremely vicious-looking wooden club and something rectangular. Gurg left the carcass bleeding on my new carpet and approached me with his usual, hunched-down, furtive way.

“Hey, Gurg, how’s it hangin’, man?”, I asked him genially, trying to forget about the destroyed carpet. Even for a troglo, Gurg looked especially disheveled: his mane and unkempt beard were embellished with small shards of broken glass and other matter, the origin of which I didn’t know, neither wanted to learn; and the bearskin he was wearing looked matted with mud, blood and whatever else a troglo might wish to immerse himself into.

Gurg groaned and moaned something that I took to mean “okay, I’m fine, whaddabut you?”, so I told ‘im, “I’m cool, too. How come you up so early?”. Gurg growled happily pointing towards the carcass. “Yeah, it’s definitely good game, but what about the zookeepers? Do you think they won’t mind?”, I asked. Gurg smiled maliciously and patted the wooden club which seemed able to topple a horny male tyrannosaur with one hit. “I see”, I told him, completely neutrally –you don’t wanna agitate a troglo just in from hunting- and asked “Hey, what’s that?”, pointing at the rectangular thing held in his paw.

Gurg approached me –oh, god, what a stench!!!- and offered me the thing, all the while hooting and pointing towards the CD player. It was, of course, a cd and obviously Gurg wanted us to listen to it. Now, far as I’ve been able to learn, before regressing to his present state, Gurg was a high-flying lawyer, working for a big record label. Seems that he went totally bananas when he lost a suit by a band against the label, which allowed the band to break contract with said label and also forced the label to hugely compensate the band. So, now, he’s a troglo, feeding off the local zoo, but it seems that he still got the knack of finding great music for us to listen to.

It also seems, though, that his regression has made him something of an authority when it comes to totally brutish music: if you guys ever need to listen to shit that goes way beyond brootal, go ask Gurg and –if he doesn’t see you as threat or food- you’ll find a real treasure trove of stuff that make Cannibal Corpse sound like pussies. Anyway, this time around the cd was from a band called Hooded Menace (really, what a cheesy name…) and it took me about three minutes into the first song to realize that Gurg had, again, hit gold.

See, banal name or not, Hooded Menace, a Finnish quartet, plays exceptionally brutal death/doom, obviously walking in the steps of past giants like Winter or Disembowelment, all the while updating and “bettering” the oppressively heavy sound of their forbearers. These crazy-ass Finns is probably the best thing Europe has to offer to the subgenre during the last few years –worldwise, no-one can top the dementia of Coffins- and “Never Cross The Dead” is one fucking great slab of primitive brutality, done the right way.

First thing one notices is the guitar sound and tone: a sick, zombie-goo sound that crawls and dirties ears and psyches alike. This guitar tone is what moves the lumbering, mammoth-carcass songs that threaten each and every moment to disintegrate under their own weight. Lemme tell ya, folks, this shit is HEAVY and –for the most part- extremely SLOOOOOOOOOOOOW. The chord sequences that the songs are comprised of are of the sick-fuck ugly kind, with only some deft guitar harmonies stopping this shit from going into sludge territory.

The rhythm section –even though obviously narcoleptic- adds enough backbone to the guitar sickness, so as to hold the songs upright, even when they seem to totter, like zombies ready to dissolve into black gunk, and in the really few times the speed picks up a bit, the drums and bass add even some, ulp, groove to the whole proceedings. The vocals consist of an extremely deep death growl that’s completely in line with the music’s brutish and unforgiving atmosphere. The production is ace, with enough clarity to allow the music to come forth in all its ugliness and enough rawness to make things even more ugly and sick than they already are. Add to all these things the love the band displays for old horror movies and a surprising and extremely enjoyable cover of “The Reurn Of The Evil Dead” theme from the infamous 1973 Amando de Ossorio’s horror gem and the case is closed.

The bottom line is, of course, that Hooded Menace is a band that every metalhead worth his love for things heavy must like. They’re heavy as all-fuck, they’re nasty, they’re slow, they’re smart –never has a 52-minutes-long record seemed to end so soon and never have seven- and eight-minutes-long songs seemed so fully-realized and played. “Never Cross The Dead” goes straight for my top-ten year-end list and so it has to be with yours. Thankfully, after listening to it for a coupla times, Gurg left with his game, leaving the cd with me, to re-listen and enjoy. Good job by the troglodyte, dontcha think?

8,5

  • Information
  • Released: 2010
  • Label: Profound Lore Records
  • Website: Hooded Menace MySpace
  • Band
  • Oula Kerkelä: vocals
  • Lasse Pyykkö: guitar
  • Antti Salminen: bass
  • Jori Sara-aho: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Never cross the dead
  • 02. Terror castle
  • 03. Night of the deathcult
  • 04. The House of Hammer
  • 05. Rituals of mortal cremation
  • 06. As the creatures ascend
  • 07. From their coffined slumber
  • 08. Theme from “Return Of The Evil Dead”