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When Hooded Menace unleashed their gloomy grim Death Metal inspired by the popular Spanish horror films series, it got a great, certainly unsuspected, exposure. Now, the third album is out and it's time for a little retrospect with Lasse, singer and founder of the band.

Interview with Hooded Menace.
1. Please introduce your kick-arse band Hooded Menace for the pointless pustules who have never heard about you (or the even worse individuals who heard of you but were not driven to investigate your shit even based on what is easily one of the best band names you can have).

Hooded Menace was formed in the summer of doom 2007 with an intent to play ultra-heavy death/doom inspired by 80´s Candlemass, early Cathedral, Asphyx, Autopsy, Black Sabbath, old horror movies (especially the Blind Dead series), Goblin, Fabio Frizzi, Winter, Trouble, the two first Paradise Lost albums etc. Since then we have released one demo, one 7"EP, three full albums and a bunch of splits with bands such as Asphyx, Coffins, Anima Morte etc. There´s been some line up changes over these few years. The current studio line up is: Lasse (vocals, guitar, bass), Pekka (drums) and Teemu (guitar). Teemu (formerly Phlegethon) joined the live line up in the beginning of 2012 and recently he became a member in "the actual band" as well. You´re going to hear him play on our next release which will be a split with the US doomgodz Loss for Doomentia Records. The current live line up is: Lasse (guitar), Pekka (drums), Teemu (guitar), Antti (bass) and Markus (vocals). Our original live vocalist, Oula, didn´t have enough time for the band anymore, so Markus (also in Sadistik Forest) replaced him.

2. Now, you was formed as a Candlemass cover band with death vocals. I'm interested to know what you thought of their latest album 'Psalms for the Dead', and the Rob Lowe stuff in general? Reckon you can cover that shit with death vocals as easily? Funnily enough there are a few similiarities in structure and vibe between 'Prophet' from the new Candlemass album and the title track from 'Never Cross the Dead'.

I have heard only a couple of tracks off the new Candlemass album. I´m a huge fan of their two first albums but also think that "Ancient Dreams" and "Tales of Creation" are great. Since then they haven´t really impressed me on albums and "Psalms for the Dead" doesn´t seem like an exception judging from a few songs I´ve heard. I never liked Lowe´s vocals in Candlemass that much. Johan Längquist is by far the best vocalist they ever had. He had the tone! Sadly he was just a session member. Messiah Marcolin was great too. Covering Candlemass seriously is a bit tricky because they have so strong vocals. Death metal grunts cannot really compete with it. It´s fun but it easily comes off a little cheesy when you know how awesome the original vocals are.

3. Even without asking you I know that you dig oldschool Cathedral, oldschool Sabs, oldschool Vitus and Witchfinder General and so on. I do too! But how about some recent doom and death-doom? What have you been listening to?

As for the more recent stuff I really enjoy bands such as Loss, Anhedonist, Pallbearer, The Wounded Kings, Druid Lord and Anguish. Lots of great bands around these days.

4. Since I snagged this interview based on being contacted to review a promo of your new album, I suppose I had better ask at least one question about that. It may well be your best so far based on a couple of listens, what do you think? I mean every fucking band always says their latest record is the best thing they've ever done, even Black Sabbath will say this when they crap out their Ozzy-reunion album! So what do you REALLY think?

Yeah, seems that bands are supposed to say that. Well, I really do think "Effigies of Evil" is at least as good as the previous album. Probably even a bit better. More melodies have crept into the music and there´s more mid-tempo hammering to band your head to. This is our most dynamic and diverse effort to date. The production is our best by far. There´s this unheard depth and oppressiveness in the sound now. It´s so heavy. In a way this is more mature stuff but still just as devastating as ever. 5. Aside from being possibly the best thing you've done, it also sounds highly similiar to your other two. With one exception. You have somewhat less of the funky retro vibes you had on the previous record, to me at least the melodies don't come through as strongly. Was this a conscious effort to solidify your sound and come across more crushing and weighty for your new label, rather than as a more Acid Witch style outfit?

I agree it´s crushingly heavy album but there are definitely more melodies than before. Maybe they were more recognizable on the previous albums as there were less of them? I don´t know… This is how the songs turned out this time around. No matter what label it is on or whatsoever.

6. You're now on Relapse eh. How do you anticipate this helping Hooded Menace and the new record?

I expect them to promote and distribute it widely and so far they´ve done good job. Also we get a bigger budget which is nice of course. We´ve nothing against spreading our music to a bit larger audience if people want us.

7. I have to say I don't really dig the Effigies cover art as much as the awesomeness inscribed for your last two albums, which is a pity since this might just be your best record yet. What's the idea behind it? It's a bit odd, don't you think? However it really does look much better on the t-shirt so I will likely still buy that.

Actually we were supposed to work with Putrid again but he wasn´t available for such a big work at the time, so we asked David V. D´Andrea. I´ve been admiring his work for a couple of years already and I was convinced his style, despite of being quite different from Putrid, would fit to Hooded Menace. I think it´s refreshingly different. Our trademarks, The Blind Dead references, are still there. David came up with this concept about the effigies being part of the landscape, they´re larger than life and The Blind Dead Templars are on an eternal path from the castle into the effigies. It´s got a mystic and epic vibe to it. We´re very happy how it turned out and I think it´s only cool that it´s not a typical death metal album cover.

8. There's a neat homage to Edgar Allan Poe and to Vincent Price's role in the film version of 'The Fall of the House of Usher' on this album. Awesome. That adds quite a few points to the score when I do the review. Talk about Poe and Price? What are you favourite books, movies from those guys respectively?

"The Fall of the House of Usher" is one of the best from Poe and Price for sure. As for more of Mr. Price I´d like to mention "Witchfinder General" and "Cry of the Banshee". It´s been years since I read Poe. Actually I recently got some Poe on my bookshelf but haven´t had a chance to read it yet.

9. Any decent horror movies out recently you enjoyed? I thought the use of Sylvester Stallone's face in The Expendables 2 was probably the most brilliant bit of horror I've seen this year.

I don´t keep up with modern horror movies. There´re too many old movies that I have yet to see.

10. I read an interview in the aftermath of the release of Never Cross The Dead where you claimed you don't really enjoy recording death vocals or writing horror lyrics. Now with a band like Hooded Menace this is somewhat integral. I am not sure if you agree, maybe you just love coming up with those awesome, gooey riffs. Did you enjoy growling any more with Effigies? After all you are now in charge of vocals again.

I´ve been in charge of vocals on all our albums. I don´t really enjoy it but someone´s gotta do it. However I´m able to put my soul into it and I do enjoy the results. Yeah, for some reason I´ve always been much more into writing music than lyrics. So far I´ve penned "Catacombs of the Graceless" (on our split 12" with Ilsa) and some some of the new material written after "Effigies of Evil". So it actually looks like I´ll be contributing more on the future releases.

11. You also mentioned once you don't like doing keyboards. But you're recording keyboards for this Ruinebell band. I mean, what?

Hmmm, I don´t think I have said that. Maybe I´ve said we don´t need keys in Hooded Menace or something… Actually I remember saying I´d like to be a better keyboard player. 12. I also remember Prague being among the cities you mention taking a walk in to get some doom metal inspiration. After all, they do have a cathedral called Saint Vitus! I'll be moving to Prague next month. What's your favourite Czech band?

Yeah, Prague is awesome indeed. Congrats on your new home! Master´s Hammer is obviously one of the first Czech bands I liked but also newer acts such as Lahar and Mörkhimmel needs to be mentioned.

13. What's coming up in terms of yer often hectic schedule of splits, EPs, side projects and so forth?

Next up for Hooded Menace is a vinyl split with Loss. Also we´re planning to record a 2-song EP at some point. As for the side-projects, Ruinebell will be recording a 4-song EP sometime later this year I hope. Phlegethon "Demos ´89-´90" 2xLP will be out 2012 or 2013 at latest. This package comes with a DVD including old footage. All these releases are going to be put out by Doomentia Records.

14. What's your process like for making splits? Some bands are lazy about it but you put four out since your last album. Any plans to make those songs more easily available?

Yeah, we like to make splits every now and then. Usually they are bands that we´re already in touch with but there must be more to it than just friendship. It must make a musically interesting project. Actually we have discussed with Doomentia about putting out all our smaller releases on CD. This will definitely happen at some point.

15. And are you planning to become one of those bands that just releases tons and tons of splits like Coffins? I don't mind as long as you do compilations sometimes.

It´s not our intention really but if we end up being one, so be it.

16. On that note, aren't Coffins fucking great? Are you into Japanese death metal other than Coffins and Zombie Ritual who you had releases with? Let me recommend you GxSxD and Gotsu Totsu Kotsu, both of whom number among my favourite live bands now. And I'll also be seeing Anatomia in November.

Yeah, Coffins are great. Nice guys too! We had a pleasure to tour with them a bit in Finland earlier this year. Anatomia is killer as well! And yes, my and Rogga Johansson´s side-project Swarming made a split with Zombie Ritual. Good stuff. Never heard of GxSxDx. I don´t follow the scene that much really.

17. What live plans do you have lined up? Festivals and tours and such. This is very important to me now since I will be back in Europe as of October and finally able to access such events. So congratulations on being the first interviewee this year where I can get excited about the answer to this question!

Next up is Summon The Dead Madridfest in Spain in november. Looks like we´ll play some festivals in Europe next year. Party.San Metal Open Air (Germany) is already confirmed and there should be more, so keep on the lookout.

18. So Phlegethon is now active again with only yourself as a member. Do you have any plans for that band? And how do you feel about the band's discography these days? Listening through the excellent collection Drifting in the Crypt, there was some quite bizarre material in the band's late '90s days, though I suppose that was the time to be weird if any.

Phlegethon is more like "on hold" at the moment. Doomentia will be releasing "Demos ´89-´90" 2xLP + DVD -package but there´s no new material in works. Yeah, sometime after "Fresco Lungs" EP (´91) we began to experiment a lot and it got pretty wild indeed. We were still very young and eager to see what else we could do musically. It was something we just had to go through I suppose. I still like the old stuff especially the songs off "Neutral Forest" demo. It´s just the piss-poor production that ruins it. Also our performance could have been better… I´d like to think the strong compositions and original lyrics shine through the weak production though.

19. I have been interviewing a bunch of Finnish death metal bands for my blog (see the link below), including Purtenance, Convulse, Desecresy and Corpsessed. I'm obsessed with oldschool Finnish death metal. You must have some favourites from those olden days?

Yeah, Funebre, Abhorrence, Amorphis, Xysma, Disgrace, Sentenced and Demigod were the best from Finland.

20. What is your all-time favourite Finnish band? (if it is Amorphis or Beherit please give me another one!) How about your favourite Finnish alcohol? That Finlandia shit is not bad, and I usually steer well clear of the vodka.

Probably Xysma. They were ahead of their time with "Yeah" album. As for alcohol, I don´t really have favorites. Maybe Sandels beer or Salmiakkikossu.

21. And what do you reckon to more recent stuff coming from Finland in the swampy, depressive death metal mould?

I don´t follow it too much but as far as I know we have pretty good scene over here. Newer bands like Stench of Decay, Krypts and Swallowed have a good thing going on.

22. Where do you see a record like Effigies of Evil fitting into the heritage of excellent, gloomy Finnish death metal?

Somewhere between early Amorphis and Thergothon maybe.

23. Now the boys from Corpsessed, Purtenance and Desecresy agree with me that we should have a big oldschool death metal festival in Finland headlined by veterans like Demigod and Convulse, with more recent bands like Krypts and Stench of Decay as support. I mean that would make for a rich, full day if you ask me. So I'd like to ask if you can persuade Relapse this is a good idea and get them to sponsor such an event?

Yeah, someone should make it happen.

24. Well Lasse, thanks for taking the time to ask my hopefully not pointless questions (we do really need that cash from Relapse for the festival). Feel free to leave any last words here. Kiitos!

No problem. Thanks for the interview!

Go to The Heavy Metal Saloon for more of this balding blogger's reviews, interviews and ranting.

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Visit the Hooded Menace bandpage.

Interviewed on 2012-10-28 by Jon Cheetham.
Forever Autumn
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