October 9, 2012 | , | 4.5

Hooded Menace, Effigies of Evil

Hooded Menace: Effigies of Evil

I’ve heard a few tracks through the past couple of years from Finland’s Hooded Menace, but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to fully explore a proper release from the duo. And, holy shit, what an exploration it is. Effigies of Evil may wear it’s early-Cathedral patch high up it’s denim jacket, but multi-instrumentalist Lasse Pyykkö and drummer Pekko Koskelo do well to add other influences (Autopsy, Dismember) to the bone crushing death/doom that this album is packed with.

Throughout the eight songs on the band’s third full-length, you’ll be bludgeoned slowly with sledghammer rhythms that are in no hurry to go anywhere, massive bass that will loosen fillings, heavy-as-fuck riffs and melodies that weave in and out of the mix like a great worm working it’s way around your rotting insides. But with all that going on, it’s Pyykkö’s gravelly, guttural delivery that really makes this album an experience to hear — his growls are delivered with patience and ferocity, yet never take away from the groove-fueled mayhem that is backing is efforts. Effigies of Evil is wonderfully mixed, layered and produced to capture a sound that is powerful, heavy and appropriately raw.

After the brief, atmosphere-setting lead-in over the first 35 seconds or so, album opener “Vortex Macabre” fades in with cold, distant guitars that have an edge of misanthropy before letting loose with Pyykkö’s guttural growls, massive doom riffs and Koskelo’s crawling drum work. You’d be hard pressed to think this opening salvo of death and doom was just over ten minutes in lenght — despite it’s plodding rhythm it flies by. The frigid melodies throughout this album are set with just the right tone to match the destructive bass work. The title track has some seriously memorable groove and riffage to go along with the menacing growls.

“In the Dead We Dwell” thunders along (after a brief, yet appropriate movie sound byte) with plenty of burly riffs and sickening melodies while the up-tempo “Curses Scribed in Gore” erupts from the start with a big growl that is sure to wake the dead from their slumber, as will the galloping rhythm provided by Koskelo. “Crumbling Insanity” certainly sounds like your own sanity is slowly dissolving under the weight of the riffs and pounding drums. “Evoken Vulgarity” is one of the more developed tracks that showcases a little more of a dynamic element to the music than a majority of the album. Album closer, “Retribution in Eternity,” is atmospheric, creepy and one hell of a way to wrap up a stellar album.

From what little I’ve heard of the band’s past material, I’d say that the malicious music they’ve created on Effigies of Evil is by far some of their best work. It’s an album that combines malevolence with melancholy for a sound that resonates and lingers long after the speakers have fallen silent. Hooded Menace are on top of their game in 2012.