Sep 10, 2012
Hooded Menace - "Effigies of Evil" ...
The album starts off with thunderclaps and ominous guitar work which sets up the mood for the 10 minute epic 'Vortex Macabre.' Despite being such a long piece, this track holds your attention by switching gears just when it is needed. This is something lacking on some of the other tracks that tend to get stuck in overly sluggish repeat mode. 'Vortex Macabre' has the honor of being the albums most enjoyable track overall and certainly the least repetitive. Before I start to give this review a negative spin, I must point out that death-doom really doesn't get much better than this even if it does get a bit monotonous. If Cathedral set a certain standard with their debut back in the early 90's, Hooded Menace have set a new benchmark for 2012. While they don't do anything that remarkable. The atmosphere, the excellent riffs, the hellish vocal gurgles and the b-grade horror movie samples make this a celebration of pure-evil and in that light, this album is almost flawless. Where the band excels and other similar death-doom bands fail is transporting the listener to another other-worldly place full of zombies and monsters. Most other death-doom albums are just a collection of riffs and melodies, this however is "a complete concept."
The only weak link if you can call it that is the vocals. They are impressive at first, only to get slightly mundane three or four tracks in. The bellows of frontman Oula Kerkelä are unique enough by death-doom standards but the low guttural, gurgling style doesn't enhance the music much which is a shame because musically Hooded Menace produce some of the finest doom ever unleashed onto the world. If the vocals present no problem for you personally, then songs like 'In the Dead We Dwell' and the title track should prove irresistible. Along with the opening epic and the title track, the other stand-out tracks are 'Crumbling Insanity,' 'Curses Scribed in Gore' and the wonderfully morbid 'Evoken Vulgarity.' The formula to these songs doesn't change much throughout the 51 minutes which makes this a little tedious at times and songs do get stuck in recycle mode and the chugging riffing gets repeated often but that is a minor gripe given how good these monolithic riffs are.
There really isn't another band that can combine death metal, doom metal, psychedelia, 70's rock, horror-metal and trad metal into a package that is as seamless as this. Also take note of some of the bands harmonized riffing which can send a chill up the spine. The band also has to be applauded for their horror lyrical angle which should be getting tired by now but somehow Hooded Menace are keeping it interesting and without it getting too cheesy as well. I don't know how they do it but other bands doing the horror-metal thing might want to take note. The best advice I can give is listen to this album in full before buying, if you don't find the songs repetitive then 'Effigies of Evil' is bound to become one of your most treasured death-doom releases. While I can't quite rate this as high as their first two albums, it is still at the top of the death-doom heap and it is still pretty hard to beat for a death-doom release. Excellent riffs and a great atmosphere in conjunction with a production job huge enough to crack ribs makes this almost essential.....it will also put a smile on your face. Very entertaining album.....9/10
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