When death metal and doom metal combine, the results can be devastating, oozing with evil energy. Each on its own is rife with aggressive instrumentation that casts ominous atmospheres, but when blended together, the music takes on a more oppressive tone. For more than a decade, Finland’s Hooded Menace have refined this hybrid to create music that crushes and mesmerizes at once. With their sixth studio album, The Tritonus Bell, Hooded Menace deliver a banger. Where 2018’s Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed primarily leaned into the explicitly doom-oriented aspects of the band, it lacked in a more balanced listening experience. The Tritonus Bell is something of a correction, its seven tracks encompassing a greater range in sound and creepy appeal.
This added kick sparks a rush from the beginning. While there are great examples of death-doom that take a slower approach to performance—Hooded Menace being one of them—there is a satisfaction in using that foundation to create something even more ferocious. Partially because, in nature, doom is a slower genre, and tends to thrive on spacey, droning performances, taking more time to let loose blooms of heavy instrumentation. When taking that approach and fusing it with fast, death metal riffs, it offers something more exhilarating alongside the expected touches of dread.
After a murky build up, “Chime Diabolicus” whips into a pumping beat and melodic rush, offering an infectious head-banging adrenaline surge. There’s a consistent rumble of bass, the track’s vocals and guitar work fueling a menacing, but vibrant misma of doom. “Those Who Absorb The Night” scales back slightly on intensity, the slower pace giving the melody a thick, grim atmosphere. Not too long after it’s begun to settle, a shift comes in the form of pummeling drums and bass—only to revert back to that gloomier presentation.
Hooded Menace’s approach to death and doom gives listeners an array of hard-hitting and darkly sublime cuts here. Their knack for melody is one of their greatest strengths, which allows them to create more interesting transitions from drones into whiplash riffs, and vice versa. In a manner similar to a theatrical performance, the band hit effective beats of emotion, creating a narrative that knows when to excite and when to scale back. It isn’t just a matter going fast then going slow, but it’s using the qualities of death and doom—configuring those elements carefully within compositions—to create an experience of horror.
Lasse Pyykkö’s and Teemu Hannonen’s guitar playing is at center stage. The guitars are consistently the focal point of the album, whether that’s the duality of rapturous doom or melancholic thrashing. Even for the album’s consistent element of gloom that lingers from track to track, Pyykkö and Hannonen provide a range of tone that keeps the atmospheric presence alive and chilling.
“Corpus Asunder” extends a thrilling energy through bouts of vicious sounding riffs and shifting drum tempos. It also transitions into moments of deeper doom—the guitars casting a twangy distortion, combining with the grueling vocals to present an eldritch sensation. “Scattered Into Dark” is one of the heavier doom tracks on the record; even in the moments where the instrumentation ramps up, the band primarily plays to a slower, haunting vibe. For a tone that sounds so evil, it’s remarkably beautiful.
The greater variety in approach and dedication to rich atmosphere establishes The Tritonus Bell as one of Hooded Menace’s strongest releases to date. As one journeys further into The Tritonus Bell, an ethereal, ominous vibe takes over, as if the listener were making their way deeper into a dungeon, finding themselves in a space where sinister energies run rampant—the doom ever consuming.
Label: Season of Mist
A graduate of Columbia College Chicago's Creative Writing Program, Michael Pementel is a published music journalist, specializing in metal and its numerous subgenres. Along with his work for Treble and Bloody Disgusting, he has also written for Consequence of Sound, Metal Injection, Dread Central, Electronic Gaming Monthly and the Funimation blog.