HoodedMLet’s face it, 2015 has been a shit year for doom – sure, we’ve been inundated with boring stoner metal that dons a redneck trucker hat and follows the same cookie cutter formula of rip off, up tempo Sabbath and Cream riffs. But in all honesty, anyone with a shred of self-respect or knowledge of what good music should sound like won’t want to listen to that. Following the release of Bell Witch’s ‘Four Phantoms’ it looked like that was going to be the only album with any semblance of mournful, soul crushing darkness we were going to get all year, which is fine; it’s a top notch album and worthy of repeat plays, but variety really is the spice of life. Then along come Finland’s Hooded Menace with fourth full length ‘Darkness Drips Forth’ – a welcome beacon of dread in the cesspool of retro amp worship and that fucking godawful ‘praiseiommi’ hashtag.

What makes Hooded Menace most interesting are their death metal roots – when they first started out, their longest song barely touched the seven minute mark. Now they’re churning out 12 minute long funereal dirges that have the ability to both writhe in the murk and reign in chaos. A much needed breath of fresh air in a genre that’s quickly becoming stale. Their doom-death hybrid reaches new heights of depravity and creativity on their latest record. Despite the lengthy durations of each track, Hooded Menace manage to avoid boring listeners to tears and instead seem to take full command of the stretches of time their music encapsulates and pack it full of tension of suspense. Sure, there’s the occasional breakdown into frantic weirdness, but they never loosen their grasp or command of your full and undivided attention.

Pykkö’s vocals remain at a low-end rumble throughout, alongside the sludge-tinged chug of the guitars – this gives the music it’s relentlessly murky atmosphere, while the double bass of the drums and Pykkö’s solos and dual guitar harmonies with Hannonen infuse each song with 90s melodic death metal. The ever changing pace will certainly keep listeners on their toes, while dragging them under with a creeping rhythm and bass section. ‘Darkness Drips Forth’ is an album that will appeal to fans of metal of every subgenre and Hooded Menace have proven themselves to be not just a band renowned for being unrelentingly heavy but also worthy of praise for their innovative song writing.

(9/10 Angela Davey)