04 Sep 2021 - Thorsten
Death-Metal / Doom | Season of Mist | Release date: 27 Aug 2021
The cover of the new Hooded Menace record The Tritonus Bell sets the tone for what is to come: A good blend of Death Metal (the monk-like reaper in the corner) is ringing the bell of Doom (the Skeletor-like skull in the middle which is missing the front teeth) from which smoke is evaporating through the spiraling staircase of classic Heavy Metal and out the window. One of the forerunners of Finnish metal is back, let’s listen to what they want to show!
A quick glance at the cover really reminds some people of the Masters of The Universe-series of the 80s, that purple tone is just like the stuff that Skeletor always wore whenever he tried to invade Castle Grayskull to obtain the Sword of Power and finally beat the hero of it all, He-Man: the muscular but not arrogant protagonist.
And in some ways this reminiscence of olden times feels appropriate when listening to The Tritonus Bell because it is first of all mixed very well by Andy LaRocque who was able to accentuate the individual trademarks of the band au point! The drums are crisp and strong, the guitars are clean and winding up and down the scales, and the vocals are pushing and understandable even. And that in itself was the case with many of the upscale 80s metal bands, amongst them, for example, King Diamond or Mercyful Fate – two bands that surely influenced this record. However, there are also the classic influences like Exodus or Metallica and in general some Thrash metal heroes who clearly paved the road for the dual guitar lines in songs like ”Scattered Into Dark”.
Of course, Hooded Menace are still strikingly perfect when it comes to combining Doom and Death Metal and even though there are many bands who do the same thing, there are hardly any who can compete with the fins when it comes to this craft. Take ”Scattered into Dark” again as an example: A mid-tempo song with a lot of atmosphere, which becomes ever more dense when the semi-acoustic part with the female spoken word comes up – goosebumps all over. Consider this and remember the guitar lines mentioned before and one can imagine quite well what happens over the course of these more than nine minutes.
That they are able to do both, embrace you and spit at you, is clearly shown by a track like the second song ”Chime Diabolicus” which really kickstarts the record after the intro ”Chthonic Exordium”. It is much faster and has a lot of groove so that it is made for a perfect concert opener. And whenever you think the song ends (first with the chants in the background then with the slowdown part after roughly five minutes) it comes at you again, and especially with the criminally 80s like short solo that opens the whole thing once more.
There are a few people who will argue that the sound of the record is too cold and clean and that it therefore lacks a bit of that dirt and grid that their former records still had plenty of. However, one should not confuse this with a present given to speak to a larger audience because how big is a scene which has to appreciate records of six tracks (not counting the intro and the interlude) with more than 44 minutes? That is neither Classic Metal like Maiden, nor proto-Doom like Candlemass, nor Death Metal like Six Feet Under but a smoking concoction of any of these? Seems pretty niche still.
And that’s what it is – a record appealing to a small part of the Metal community but at the same time speaking to everyone. You can be a fan of any of these genres and still detest the record for it never shows you its own favorite. Or you can simply lean back for the intro, then jump up, bang the shit out of your head and enjoy this fist-pump-inducing record for lovers of heavy, evocative, atmospheric and dense METAL!