When they told me that Darkness Drips Forth was Hooded Menace’s “most gruesome work yet,” I knew I was gonna hafta give’r a listen. Don’t get me wrong, death/doom ain’t really my cuppa—but hey, gimme Autopsy, Coffins and Winter’s Into Darkness any day. (I’ll admit, the latter has grown on me a bit since I wrote this.) Alas, as the cold November rain bring with it a dearth of decent doom releases, so I figured I’d at least try to make my way through this one.
That said, in spite of its extended song lengths, the overall runtime is just shy of 43 minutes, as there are a mere four tracks here. Eerie opener “Blood for the Burning Oath, Dungeons of the Disembodied” could fit its lengthy moniker multiple times into its 11-and-a-half-minute duration, and though it’s not all crash ‘n bash, you can expect a heavy helping of downtuned doom. In fact, they sound fairly reminiscent of fellow Finns Reverend Bizarre in every aspect but the vocal department, where they deliver more standard guttural growls, while the drum rolls really remind me of Winter. But there’s a slightly more uptempo section around the midway mark where they blow the Reverend away with some mildly melodic death metal. Hell, I could even hear a couple of these riffs on a frickin’ Blind Guardian record!
“Elysium of Dripping Death” takes but a few seconds before gutpunching you with a punishing doom riff, delivered nice ‘n slow. But even then you hear some melodic sensibilities you wouldn’t expect from the death side of the ledger—they actually sorta sound like Apostle of Solitude (except, again, in the vocal department). “Ashen with Solemn Decay” is probably the closest they come to traditional death metal here, but even then, some of these riffs are lighter and airier than your typical corpsegrinding fare.
“Beyond Deserted Flesh” doesn’t really go beyond the template they’ve laid to date. You get some mid-tempo death-metal chugging, gloomy doom notes ringing out forlornly, and vocals that sound like someone left the washing machine on extra rinse. But not that I’m complaining—they’ve far surpassed my rather modest expectations here. Most gruesome, indeed!