Finland’s Hooded Menace have returned with their fifth offering with a truly tongue twisting name. 2015’s “Darkness Drips Forth” contained a quartet of epic Doom Death that pricked my ears before pummelling them. I think “Elysium of Dripping Death” is still the longest song I have played on the radio!

Now in 2018 the Finns have let fly (well crawl ominously) a sextet of menacing musical bombasts that reek of melancholic malevolence. Shit Matt Mason that it is a lot of ‘m’s!

Opener “Sempieternal Grotesqueries” lopes into view like classic My Dying Bride, theatrical flashes across gargantuan riffs before being shocked into life like Victor’s fleshy jigsaw. Founder Lasse Pyykko intersperses soaring guitar lines that sparkle like lightning amongst the sumptuous murkiness that the rest of the band create.  Parts of this song dare to even sound uplifting!  Harri Kuokkanen possesses the perfect voice for the compositions. Emotive yet forceful, menacing yet strangely melodic and nicely accented.

The beauty of Hooded Menace is their ability to convey feelings of dread and sorrow without using a JCB digger to layer it on. There is still room to breathe and enjoy the music whilst being drenched in the dark quaggy darkness. There are elements of Prog in the tracks. “In Eerie Deliverance” definitely has some Porcupine Tree moments. Great use of Coltsblood’s Jemma McNulty for the spoken part.

“Cathedral of Labyrinthe Darkness” seems to combine the Gothenburg sound with Funeral Doom to great effect. The cymbals ring out crystal clear like splashes in flooded caverns. There is some levity here. “Cascade of Ashes” throws a black velvet blanket over any light. Big doomy riffs piling on top of each other, the aural equivalent of that final scene in Kill List.

“Charnel Reflections” continues the cacophony. The drums are cavernous herein, echoing around the speakers. I expect Charon to emerge out of the mist asking for his fare.  Except this time he is holding a Gibson in his skeletal hands blasting out chugging headbanging riffs.

The album ends with instrumental “Black Moss” which I expected, from its title , to be a dense mass of colossal riffs that suffocated me. What it was rather reminded me of early Metallica instrumentals which is no bad thing at all.

Hooded Menace have created another fine album and one that allows the METAL to flow beneath the Doom/Death tag. A subterranean riff filled world of dark wonder that I look forward to dipping into again and again.

(8/10 Matt Mason)