Hooded Menace – The Tritonus Bell (Season of Mist)

On their 2008 debut, Fulfill The Curse, Hooded Menace established themselves as masters of slithering, soul sucking death doom.

Like Japan’s Coffins, the Finns swiftly became a cult act, an outfit whose crushingly heavy, crypt-dwelling songs enamoured fans of 90s Asphyx, Winter and Paradise Lost’s early forays into the abyss.

But the quartet have refused to stand still.

On 2018’s Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed, for instance, they weaved their original sound into seductive Gothic tapestries. Spectral melodies flourished across the likes of In Eerie Deliverance and Cascade of Ashes.

And that album’s successor, The Tritonus Bell, moves Hooded Menace into pacier, more traditional heavy metal territory, while losing none of the supernatural essence of their previous work.

Indeed, there are strong hints of Mercyful Fate on the incredible Blood Ornaments, which sees guitarists Lasse Pyykkö and Teemu Hannonen let fly a la Denner and Shermann.

And it’s perhaps no surprise to learn that King Diamond axeman Andy La Rocque had a hand in the record’s mixing and mastering.

Hell, there’s even a cheeky W.A.S.P. cover – The Torture Never Stops – thrown in for good measure.

However, it’s the band’s ability to balance trad doom groove (check out Scattered Into Dark for a little Candlemass worship), ‘Peaceville three’ miserabilism and sizzling metal fretwork in their own, distinctive way that really makes the album so compelling.

Chime Diabolicus, one of the standout tracks, lifts off with rip roaring, classic metal bombast before shifting into a heads-down doom groove and unleashing a cloud of stifling cemetery fog.

It clocks in at eight minutes plus, yet it’s as infectious as a zombie bite.

Whether The Tritonus Bell expands the reach of Hooded Menace remains to be seen.

But in embracing a wider span of metal’s history, they’ve gifted us a thrilling record – and an opus that builds on their formidable legacy.