After my first listen to Hooded Priest’s latest offering, ‘The Hour Be None’, I would have happily sworn that I must be in possession of their previous offerings, maybe at least a couple of albums or EPs; such was the immediate familiarity of the album and the feelings of instant acceptance that it made me convinced I must have head them before. However, after an extensive search of my hard drive, and even a good trawl through my 30+ year strong CD collection (sorry folks, I was happy to move over from vinyl and tape back in the eighties and I’m not so hip as to take that retrograde step into collecting them again), proved I was mistaken in that belief.
‘The Hour Be None’ opens with the atmosphere forming instrumental intro of ‘Dolen – Exiting The Real’, a droning work that could have accompanied the shadowy approach of Max Schreck across a black and white screen, all before you hear the Hooded Priest ‘Call For The Hearse’ to take away the remains of his victim, and as the track dragged along its funereal 9 minutes, I could only imagine a cowl clad vocalist offering benedictions to a slowly nodding audience.
‘These Skies Must Break’ follows with the same zombie like lurch, agonised cries and near operatic howls matching riffs played slow and low at the beginning until the drummer sporadically picks up the beat, hauling the band along for short NWOBHM inspired gallops before the pace drops back to to the slog of damned souls heading to their fate. ‘Herod Again’ opens with a higher tempo than its predecessors, playing out at an almost obscene sprint for the first couple minutes before it slows to accompany the screams of the children as their fate approaches, a church organ joining in with the guitar, bass and drums to turn the song into a eulogy for the lost. ‘Locust Reaper’ and ‘Mother of Plagues’ complete the six tracks of the album, each etched through with images ripped straight from the pages of Revelations and matched to riff after riff of biblical proportions, the vocalist delivering line after line like a service to an audience of the insufficiently penitent condemned to purgatory.
From start to finish, ‘The Hour Be None’ is an album that just screams, or rather chants, of theatricality in the vein of classic Candlemass. Ignoring the modern necessity to try and force itself into one of the ever increasing number of sub genres, Hooded Priest instead simply delivers skilfully crafted classic Doom, with a capital “D”, and if your tastes are in any way close to mine, then this is for you.