Pacing is one of the most important aspects of the musical arts. Often, unfortunately, it goes ignored or unutilized, but proper pacing can be an incredible strength for a piece of music. No matter the genre in question, a good command of an album’s pace and speed can be a huge strength, and, in some cases, the difference between the release being a success and it being a failure. Artists like Dreadnought and The Mars Volta, to name bands in very different places on a musical spectrum, have both mastered the art of pacing an album properly and use it to lend a huge sense of strength and progression to their music.

Hooded Menace realize this, and seek to emphasize the aspect of pacing in their music as well. On their newest release, Darkness Drips Forth, they’ve definitely succeeded. Well-paced and dripping with atmosphere, the whole album has a very grim, macabre, almost grotesque vibe to it, as if the whole album was actually composed in some dark, moldy dungeon. Evil, ambient, and villainous, Hooded Menace succeed here through their great use of pacing to create a fantastic atmosphere that pulls the listener in almost instantly and refuses to let go.

These Finnish stalwarts of death doom metal pile slab after slab of grimy, grungy riffage on top of each other in a slow and methodical fashion, building up from nothing into buzzing soundscapes of texture and feedback, each guitar lick swirling into the next to form a whirlpool of darkness and evil from which no light escapes. The album’s name is ridiculously appropriate: the whole 40 minutes and change runtime of Darkness Drips Forth is, well, dripping with the stench of decay, and every change-up into a different segment of a track seems to ooze forth with an inky blackness that threatens to swallow the listener whole.

Performance-wise, Darkness is a record that shows a band that is locked in and dead-set on the sound they seek to go for. The lead guitar work sets a great tone as it adds some quick melodic work to the otherwise molasses-thick instrumentation here, and the riffs are chunky, slow, and have enough rough texture to them to give sandpaper a run for its money. Percussion-wise, this album is a joy: the drumming establishes the pace for the album nicely, and although there are minimal flourishes, it does the job quite well. The vocals are appropriately rough for the genre, and are serviceable in their performance. They stick mostly to the background, thankfully, and while they don’t ruin anything, Darkness Drips Forth could be greatly improved by a vocalist who had a little more texture and emotive quality to their voice.

Nothing here stands out as egregiously bad: the runtime suits the music well, no singular segment feels overlong or otherwise inappropriate, and the performances by each part of the band are tight. The music’s quality never dips below “decent,” and the band seems comfortable in their own skin (which should be expected, given that this is their fourth release). Hooded Menace know what they are and why people listen to them, and this is a consistently solid record that fans of the band, and death doom metal in general, will enjoy.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDoUHKdrmGA]

Hooded Menace – Darkness Drips Forth gets…

3.5/5

-SH

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