ThisIsNotAScene‘s own Ray was quite taken with the latest release from Hooded Menace, “Effigies of Evil”. He was able to lasso Lasse Pyykkö and talk about the new release and all things Hooded Menace.
Congrats on releasing such a strong album as “Effigies Of Evil”. Are you happy the way it turned out?
Thanks! Yeah, I’m very satisfied with it. I think it’s our most dynamic and diverse effort to date. A little more melodies have crept into the music and there’s also more mid-tempo hammering to bang your head to. However, it ain’t a giant step from “Never Cross the Dead”. If you liked that one, the new record should hit the spot as well.
How was the recording and creative process like compared to previous experiences?
Not much different really. Mikko Saastamoinen was handling the knobs with us again. As usually, we recorded the drums in a professional studio and all the rest was worked at Horrisound Studios, which is basically just some recording gear at our practice spot. Nothing too fancy.
As for the songwriting process, it was quite smooth although I must admit it’s getting a bit harder to come up with really interesting ideas within this genre. It’s alright though. I like musical challenges and I think there are still many ways to expand the expression without ditching the basic elements of our sound. Just gotta have patience and work hard. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s gonna evolve.
What I really like about the album is that you guys manage to write actual songs instead of endless piles of guitar riffs. How important is for you to write memorable songs?
Well, it’s important to be real and honest and this kind of music is what comes out naturally. You know, it’s pretty memorable and catchy stuff that have inspired us the most. Think 80’s Candlemass, early Paradise Lost and Autopsy records. They were all extreme in their own way, they had the originality and they wrote catchy songs. I grew up with this stuff. My way of writing songs derives from those days and beyond, when Deep Purple, Iron Maiden and Accept were the shit.
Do you need to be in a special headspace before you start writing songs?
Not really, but I can tell you I can’t even pick up a guitar if I’m depressed. When I’m okay, which is most of the time I guess, haha, I can focus and something might come out. Of course the best/most enjoyable state to create something is when you’re really inspired and totally burning for it, but something good can come out in less excited states as well. You just go for it and sorta like try to lure the ideas out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Hooded Menace has its roots firmly established in the early nineties doom/death metal scene. What do you find so inspiring about that scene back then?
Some of the early 90’s death/doom bands were able to write memorable and original music. It was extreme at the time, but it was also very musical stuff. Real songs. Something that many present bands lack as they are trying too hard to be “extreme” or “original”. Maybe the nostalgia that I feel for those times boost my inspiration but it’s undeniable that some of the best metal music was created back then and its influence will be eternal.
The production also has this old school early nineties vibe to it. How was this achieved?
Let’s just say that we had a vision about how the album should sound and aimed to that. Our “engineer”, Mikko, was a big help in the process. I know it sounds more produced than the previous records but it´s still far from that typical modern, soulless and polished production that we avoid like a plague. We wanted a ballsy and heavy, rough sound with enough clarity to it.
Who is responsible for the great artwork and how does it tie in with the themes explored on the album?
David V. D’Andrea did the artwork based on the lyrics of “Effigies of Evil” and my wishes that concerned the Blind Dead references. Mostly it´s his vision really. It’s not directly based on the lyrics of the title track but he certainly got inspired by them. In David‘s vision, the effigies are larger than life. They’re part of the landscape. The Blind Dead Templars are on an eternal path from the caste to the effigies. It’s quite mysterious cover. I like how it matches with the music.
In the studio Hooded Menace is a two man formation, but live you guys make use of three other musicians. What are the pros and cons of working like this?
From my experience, recoding as a duo is more efficient. It’s faster and you get more control over the process. The less members, the less problems with schedules, chemistries etc. Then again it’s more work for me but I’d rather take this option than stress about other people. The live members have other bands that they consider their main bands, so the fact that they aren’t in the actual band is not a mood killer for them. But I must admit it’s a bit confusing layout to the fans and personally I’d like to have same, steady line up for all purposes. It’s just not that simple to arrange and not absolutely necessary. You know, it’s been going rather well like this so far.
All this being said, recently our 2nd guitarist Teemu joined the studio line up as well, so we’re a trio now. We have our past in Phlegethon, so I know how easy it is to work with him. He’s really motivated and just as excited as ever. He’s got a great touch to his playing. It would be stupid not to have him in the actual band.
Finland is mostly known for bands like Children of Bodom, Nightwish and Amorphis. Do you feel any kinship to those bands despite you guys tapping from a whole range of different influences?
No, I can’t feel any kinship at all to Nightwish or C.O.B. apart from the nationality. In fact Nightwish comes from a very small place close to our home city Joensuu but it feels like we’re from different planets, haha! Of course I feel the kinship to Amorphis because of their early material. They were very much influenced by the same bands as Hooded Menace. They came from the same scene as my old band Phelgethon.
What is next in terms of touring and possible other projects?
As for the shows, next up is Summon the Dead Madridfest in Spain. That’s in November. We have a new live vocalist, Markus, and this will be his first show with us. So it’ll be quite special. We just got confirmed for the next year’s Party.San Metal Open Air (Germany) and there are other plans too for the summer of 2013. More about them later.
Our next release will be the split vinyl with the US Doomgodz Loss for Doomentia Records. We also hope to record a new 2-song EP for Doomentia at some point, so keep on the lookout!