By Gabe Commissaris
The mighty behemoth that is Hooded Menace has returned with another monstrosity of an album. This Finnish death/doom metal act has been consistently smashing skulls for over 10 years. “Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed” is a continuation of this practice. They may have had a near complete lineup change, but once the riffage kicks in, it is easy to forget it even happened.
What makes this album slightly different from previous Hooded Menace releases are the melodic sections. Hooded Menace is known for their slow, but aggressive crushing tone, but on this album, melodic rhythm sections and guitar solos are noticeably more present. These sections mix surprisingly well with the overall brutality due to their sheer force and magnitude, plus it adds a sense of emotion to the album which builds on the already intense rhythm sections. The tracks “In Eerie Deliverance” and “Charnel Reflections” are where these melodic sections shine the most. Fans of Hooded Menace’s early work will still be pleased by this album despite the slight directional change, especially with tracks like “Cathedral of Labyrinthine Darkness” and “Sempiternal Grotesqueries” which hit with the force of multiple artillery strikes. This is exactly what any fan of this subgenre craves. The album flows very nicely, giving you no rest from the beatdown, however the ending track “Sorrows of the Moon” sounds considerably different from rest of record, almost as if it was lost material pulled from another record where it did not make the cut. The pace is relatively faster, and the tone is much more mellow than previous tracks. Still, it is effective in providing a fitting conclusion to the album.
The production on this album is top notch. Seasons of Mist records has a habit of punishing your eardrums. With this album, the damage may be irreversible. The drums are the highlight of the album production. Like most doom metal albums, emphasis is put on the toms, snare and cymbals delivering the most in terms of force and sound. In terms of style, the drummer Otso Ukkonen manages to keep things interesting throughout the entirety of the record with his cleverly placed fills and time changes. The guitarists dish out an armada of doom riffs and their force can be felt with much greater magnitude due to how well they are produced. There is very little distortion within the guitar sound. Even the bass is audible amongst the chaos at times which goes to show how dedicated Seasons of Mist is when it comes to producing this kind of music. In terms of content, the band has a consistent horror theme drawing from the works of H.P. Lovecraft and other similar writers. The slow pace of the songs and the unrelenting powerful blows they deliver fit the narrative well. There are a few other moments within the album in which the horror theme is made apparent. The track “In Eerie Deliverance” features a sinister female monologue that will keep you up at night. The instrumental “Black Moss” sounds absolutely haunting thanks to the guitar work.
Hooded Menace has once again delivered a piece of music that is capable of rupturing the planet’s tectonic plates while successfully adding a new element to their trademark sound. Fans of their previous work and fans of the death/doom metal subgenre in general should be pleased with this record. Count on having some bruises if you think you can listen to this album from start to finish.