Hooded Menace has become one of the leading names in the present day death metal genre. The slow doomy death metal by Hooded Menace has conquered the catacombs of the underground. Their third opus called EFFIGIES OF EVIL has just seen the light of day and received tremendous reviews. The mastermind of Hooded Menace, Lasse Pyykkö, sheds more light on the new opus and how Hooded Menace has been welcomed amongst the death metal audience.
Interview and pictures by Arto Lehtinen
Hello Lasse, how’s it going there in the camp of Hooded Menace?
Hi Arto! We´re living exciting times as the new album will be released very soon and it´s already getting some good reviews. Furthermore we´re rehearsing for the upcoming gigs as well as working on some new material.
WORKING ON THE NEW ALBUM
Apparently the whole horde of Hooded Menace spent all of this spring in the studio, recording the follow-up to the NEVER CROSS THE DEAD album called EFFIGIES OF EVIL. Hhow did the recording process go?
Yeah, we started recording it in the winter and the finishing touches were put in the spring. Recording is always a bit stressful but after all the process was quite smooth I guess. Well, as usually I was struggling again with the vocal tracks but in the end they turned out just fine. It´s always a headache as I don´t practice the vocals at all beforehand. Yeah, I know it is pretty stupid…
As for the title of the album EFFIGIES OF EVIL, what does it reflect and where was it found ?
"Effigies of Evil" is one of the album tracks and I thought it sounded like a great album title. It´s also a strong song so we chose it. I don´t want to explain the lyrics too much but basically "Effigies of Evil" is about ancient evil taking control. The might of the old and arcane.
Do you view writing and creating new hymns for Hooded Menace is getting more and more difficult and challenging in order to find deadly and catchy riffs ?
Yeah, after 3 full albums + a couple of smaller releases it´s already getting a bit harder to come up with interesting songs but I like musical challenges. It´s fascinating. I think there´re still many ways to expand our expression without ditching the basic elements of the sound. When did you start working on the songs for the third opus and how do you usually start composing the new material ? I think I started writing the material sometime in late 2010. Writing process is pretty much always the same. I just sit down with a guitar and play until something decent comes out. I make a very complete demo for every song. There´s a drum machine track and all.
How long did you work on the songs to achieve the result pleasing your tastes?
It took about half a year to write this album. I took it easy and didn´t rush it. Then I rehearsed the songs with Pekka who also practiced them a bit on his own. We practiced more for this album than for the previous one but it wasn´t like we dwelled in the rehearsal place anyway. Pekka is a great drummer, very musical guy and learns stuff pretty fast.
Seen from your point of view – how do these newer songs differ from the older – have you tried to explore new ideas or do you rather rely on the old school death/doom metal approach?
Basically we still very much rely on the old school death/doom metal recipe but it´s good to vary and spice it up a bit for every new album. I don´t feel comfortable about repeating myself over and over again. The new album is slightly more mid-tempo and more melodic but then again it´s probably our heaviest effort so far. There´s this unheard depth and oppressiveness in the sound now. I cannot deny the increasing influence of "Lost Paradise" / "Gothic" -era Paradise Lost. It´s looming there stronger than ever.
Where did you record the album? Did you sit behind the desk all the time keeping an eye on the recording process?
We recorded the drums at this brand new, extremely professional studio named SF Sound and the rest of the instruments were tracked at our very own Horrisound Studios which is basically just some recording gear and a laptop at our rehearsal spot. This time I didn´t keep an eye on the whole process. I visited the drum sessions only briefly. Also our "engineer" Mikko Saastamoinen worked on some of the mixing and mastering pretty much on his own. Along the time you have more trust in the people you work with so it was my intention not to be there all the time. This way it was less stressful to all of us I suppose.
INKING THE DEAL WITH RELAPSE
The previous full length album NEVER CROSS THE DEAD came out on Profound Lore Records, were you however pleased with their promotion and in general work with them?
Yeah, Profound Lore did good job. Decent label indeed. Chris Bruni is a great guy and his label has a quite loyal following and for a reason. It felt a bit bad to leave Profound Lore but we wanted to try Relapse once the opportunity was given to us.
The debut album was released by Razorback Recordings. How important was to have a label sharing the same kind of back catalogues of bands what Hooded Menaces metal stands for ?
Well, the label´s horror background was cool, but regarding the same kind of bands musically (death/doom) there was only the 1st Coffins album really as far as I remember. Acid Witch came a bit later after us so the label´s back catalogue didn´t matter much. It was just that I was already in touch with them as I had this Vacant Coffin -thing going on. They started releasing more death/doom oriented records only after Hooded Menace and Acid Witch left the label.
How did you end up inking a deal with Relapse – What made their offer superior and better than other possible deals offered to you?
Financial support and promotion combined to the label´s long experience from the record industry. Those things made us sign with them. We want to see what a metal label the size of Relapse can do for us. We’ve nothing against spreading our music to a bit wider audience if people want us. We´re devoted to our music, not to any scene and its "rules", so signing to a bigger independent label doesn’t turn out guts. By the way they have been picking some pretty good bands again. Despite the deal with Relapse we´ll still be doing splits and other smaller releases for underground labels like Doomentia.
How many labels actually approached you offering deals ? Did you already know in the early stage of inking a deal Relapse is the best suitable label for Hooded Menace?
I think there were something like six labels making offers. All good offers actually but Relapse seemed like the best option for us. When the offers started to come in, it pretty soon became clear that we´ll sign with Relapse. Time will tell if we made the right choice. So far so good!
As for the deal with Relapse, is the deal with them a long term one?
It´s for two full albums.
What is the purpose of putting the ep and split outputs? As far as I know Hooded Menace have got five split ep with different bands such as Coffins, Asphyx?
It´s simply a pleasure to share a wax with a band you dig and have respect for. It feels like right thing to do. Of course it´s gotta be musically interesting project. Being friends isn´t necessarily good reason enough to make a split. How did this split release with Asphyx come about ? Lukas from Doomentia introduced the idea to us. He knew I was in contact with Bob from Asphyx and thought it won´t harm to ask if they´d be up for a split. So I e-mailed Bob about it and they were totally into the idea. I´m still in shock, haha! I mean we´re talking about one of the most influential bands for Hooded Menace. Also Martin van Drunen has been one of my favorite death metal vocalists since his days in Pestilence. If you told me in ´89 that I will have a split release with Martin´s band I wouldn´t believe it. I´d say you´re flipping out!
Horse Latitudes being more stoner sludge outfit from Helsinki, Did Doomentia Rec come up an idea about doing a split Horse Latitudes?
Actually the idea for this split came from me. I really liked Horse Latitudes´ debut album and e-mailed them if they wanted to make a split with us. I didn´t know these guys at all at this point. I thought the split would be quite interesting piece of music and it turned out great indeed. After the split Doomentia actually signed them, so I guess I got Lukas pretty hooked on the band!
I assume you may receive a plenty of requests for split releases, how do you pick up the most interesting ones?
Yeah, we receive split offers from time to time but we also like to make offers. So far all the splits we´ve done are our ideas. Well, one came from Doomentia… We´ve got some interesting offers though and one or two of them might materialize in the future. It´s not so hard to pick up the best options. If you like the band and the people in it, and it seems like it could be an interesting project musically, it stands out and you take it from there.
I believe you will continue releasing these split eps in the future?
Of course but maybe not as often as before.
SOMETHING OF HOODED MENACE
The line-up of Hooded Menace has undergone and been expanded as the former Phelegethon guitarist Teemu Hannonen joined to strength the sounds of the band, but Was Hooded Menace meant to be your own project with various members surrounded you?
Yeah, Teemu joined the live line up and he´ll be playing on records as well. So he´ll be the 3rd member in the studio line up. I´m thrilled about it because I´ve known him almost for my entire life and I know how easy it is to work with him. Hooded Menace wasn´t meant to be my project with members coming and going all the time. This is just how it has been with this band. Of course the band is created around me and I´m writing all this music but I wouldn´t mind having the same, steady line up for the studio and for the gigs. It´s just not that simple to arrange and not absolutely necessary. You know, things have been going rather well so far like this.
Originally your old band Phlegethon got reunited in purpose of doing something together, but led to nowhere – was Hooded Menace formed to satisfy your musical taste and passion to create something new and extreme? And is Phlegethon now in the everlasting sleep?
Well, we have to remember that before Hooded Menace there was Vacant Coffin. As soon as I realized and accepted the fact that it would be impossible to get the original line up for the Phlegethon reunion, it kinda killed the fun and I started to focus my energy and inspiration for Vacant Coffin and soon for Hooded Menace as well as for other projects like Claws and whatnot. Actually some of the first Hooded Menace music was written for Phlegethon but after all I felt like it would be best to create a totally new band for these ideas. I guess this death/doom -thing was bound to happen… see: when Phlegethon was formed in ´88, at some point we seriously pondered about going into a total death/doom direction. You know, Candlemass-esque doom metal with death metal vocals. We didn´t know anyone that was playing that kind of stuff at the time and it felt a bit bizarre idea. So eventually we chose to play death/thrash metal because complex stuff like that seemed like more challenging and funnier to play. Also there were more killer death and thrash metal bands to get inspired by than doom bands that were very few. You know, we were just kids eager to get better at our instruments. All that being said, of course I´m very proud of what we achieved with Phelgethon although it was rather a short ride. I don´t know for sure if Phlegethon is now in everlasting sleep. That´s why I rather say it´s "on hold".
What kind of bands influenced you in the first place, when forming Hooded Menace and creating the first songs ?
80´s Candlemass, early Cathedral, Asphyx and Autopsy.
The name of Hooded Menace have got spread out like a wildfire thru the catacombs of the underground – are you kind of surprised to have so large following in such a short time ? Do you have some special tools to advertise Hooded Menace?
When we started I didn´t have any expectations. I always knew we had a good thing going. It was satisfying and a bit confusing to see more and more people were getting into what we were doing. It makes me humble and very grateful but then again it feels kinda justified because you have worked so hard for your music and put a lot of passion to it. Do we have special tools for advertising? Not that I know. I´d like to think we´ve come this far because of our music, not because of some clever media tricks or gimmicks.
Hooded Menace has gigged a lot in different places, as far as I am able to remember your show at Black Mass Ritual fest in Helsinki was one of the first shows, right?
Yeah, that was our first show. It went very well and gave me a lot of confidence so we´ve been playing every now and then since.
How have you managed to book a number of gigs in Europe and The States as well?
We were asked to play. We don´t have a gig booker and we don´t like to ply ourselves to get gigs. If people want us and the conditions are good, we´ll consider about it. We aren´t hungry for long tours but prefer one off gigs, festivals and such. We did a mini-tour in USA last year and that was pretty cool. I think we´d like to do something like that in the future as well.
Do you have any particular gigs which have stuck to your memory for some reason or another?
Maryland Deathfest and Roadburn were great. Not our best performances but the crowds were amazing and the both are great festivals. Also opening for Saint Vitus in Helsinki, Finland has been etched in my brain. That´s something to reminisce when I´m old and crippled.
How does the Finnish audience approve of Hooded Menace?
Very well actually. Sometimes the crowd can be a little reserved but most often it´s been very good. Last time in Helsinki (w/ Horse Latitudes and Lurk) was a rager and the both times in Oulu have been just fantastic.
The new Hooded Menace album will be out anytime soon and so the first video as far as I know?
Yeah! Exciting! I can´t wait to get the album in my hands! Also the video should be ready by the end of August. It will be very interesting to see how Justin has visualized all those ideas within the given budget. I don´t want to give away details. You´ll just wait and see.
I thank you for your time for doing the interview for Metal-Rules.Com and the last words are yours..
Thank you for the interview! Check out the new album! I hope you guys and gals are gonna like it! Cheers!!
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