Hooded Menace: Effigies Of Evil

With one of the heaviest presences to consume the senses this year, Effigies Of Evil from Finnish death metalers Hooded Menace is a plundering exhaustive chasm of never ending intensity and weighty ravenous breath. The release overwhelms and suffocates whilst treating its victims to some quite fine melodic touches which should sound out of place but have a seamless and engaging fit. Engaging, not really a word to slip easily from the lips in regard to Effigies of Evil but at times that is what it is; the rest of its slowly rippling muscular presence though is just corrosive oppression.

Formed in 2007 by guitarist, bassist, vocalist Lasse (Phlegethon , Vacant Coffin), the band is heavily influenced by the old school entity of death metal with the likes of early Cathedral, Asphyx, Black Sabbath, and Candlemass strong flavours in their doom /death devouring pit spawn filth. Lyrically songs are driven by cult horror films and ideas, especially the classic 70’s Spanish horror series the Blind Dead and the rotting, eyeless Templar Knights who slowly stalk their prey. This makes for music and tracks which are cinematic in their story telling and corruptive in their breath. Effigies Of Evil the third album from the band and first for Relapse Records is no different, destructive and laborious energy wise; it sucks upon the senses whilst leaving nothing but satisfaction behind.

The album is one which needs plenty of attention to unveil all the acute melodic flames within the always crushing intense blanket of sound and though it may be too uncompromising for some the release is still undeniably an unforgettable and impossible to ignore violation. The opening track Vortex Macabre sums up the release and band alone. It is an epic ten minute prowl through the senses and emotions which initially makes its introduction through an atmospheric beginning. With cold winds suggesting a harsher landscape a lone desolate guitar expels its melancholic heart into the air. Eventually the track raises its head to start its crawl through the ear with acidic guitars and prowling rhythms, the song choosing its moments to quicken its heart and pace as it subsequently leaps deeper with immediately captivating melodic strokes and caustic caresses. All the while though the guttural bestial growls of Lasse spill venom into every note and admittedly indecipherable word thus ensuring the intimidation and brutal nature of the beast is always to the fore. Lurching into its latter half the song falls over the edge into an abyss of tar like energy and  scorched manipulation of the ear, its mass seeing off the addictive hook which had threatened to light up the song just before. With climax in sight the track does merge both aspects again and though arguably the song is overlong, it is a darkly mesmeric companion into the death soaked world of Hooded Menace.

The following title track continues along the same fetid journey with equal success and effect but it is with the next in line where the album ignites real passion. The vampire themed In The Dead We Dwell is a masterful example of inescapable malevolence, deathly intent, and the wanton attraction of pure evil. With a sickened groove veining the twisted charm of the track and the rhythms and guitars as satanic as the unhealthy atmosphere seeping from every second of the song, there is a sirenesque pull which ignites the heart and hunger more than elsewhere on the album. The blend of the as ever abrasive and light defeating vocals and incendiary sonic invention is a perfect and heady match making the song irresistible and lingering.

The likes of Crumbling Insanity with its heart breaking melodic groove within unforgiving black shadows, the magnetic smothering touch of Summoned Into Euphoric Madness, and the excellent Evoken Vulgarity all continue to strike with impactful effect through their fine elements. The latter of the three especially captures the imagination with its unexpected closing strains of goth metal which brought spices of The Mission to bear.

Effigies Of Evil is a fine album which maybe did not ignite enough consistently burning fires but those it did spark up raged with great pleasure. Hooded Menace is well on course to being a prominent player in death metal, their new album the next impressive step.

RingMaster 11/09/2011

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