Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hooded Menace: Never Cross the Dead (2010)

Hooded Menace is a Finnish death/doom band signed to Profound Lore. Considering my Metal Archives profile lists "death and doom" as my favorite genres, and Profound Lore is Profound Lore, there is nothing about it that didn't pique my interest.

Never Cross the DeadTheir style can be described succinctly: imagine Bloodbath covering Candlemass. The guitar has that same crunchy quality as Bloodbath's, and the vocals--yes, the vocals sound like Bloodbath as well (somewhere in between Åkerfeldt and Tägtgren), which is an incredible compliment to his talent as a death growler. The bass is audible, and the drums have a natural sound, with both instruments played in an unobtrusive way.

But once you get past the sounds of the vocals and guitar, there is nothing death metal in the compositions they play. The riffs and tempo are purely doom. Most of it's slow but it goes a bit faster at times, ranging from the near-funereal to the speed of a slow Maiden track (see "Night of the Deathcult" for examples of both). The title track is the best one on the album, and it grooves like something off Candlemass's self-titled. The leads are simple, with one of the best being a simple solo that weaves back and forth in the mix ("Terror Castle"); a few times they sound a bit more like My Dying Bride ("Rituals of Mortal Cremation").

All of the above are very high compliments, but the songwriting needs some improvement. An EP consisting of only the first three songs would have been astoundingly good, but the rest of the album is mostly forgettable. The low point is "As the Creatures Ascend", with lackluster riffs and vocals that fight against the music rather than blending with it. Still, those first three tracks are very good.

The Verdict: Hooded Menace have a lot of things going for them, and if they would fill a full-length with songs the quality of the first three tracks on this album, it could be an instant classic. I'll definitely be watching out for what they do next. I give Never Cross the Dead 3.5 out of 5 stars.

1 comment: