Friday, February 24, 2017

AlgomA/Hooded Menace Split Vinyl Single Review!!

Now's a good time to tackle our 92nd monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, as we're taking a look at the new 12'' split vinyl single from local doom metal trio AlgomA and Joensuu, Finland doom metal quintet Hooded Menace! I guess the official title is "Hooded Menace/AlgomA". Released online on January 28th via Hooded Menace's label Doomentia Records, and with artwork by Paolo Girardi, this is the third total release and second vinyl split from AlgomA, and the seventh split (first since 2014) and fifteenth total release for Hooded Menace. AlgomA's song was recorded locally at Six, Two, Oh. & mixed by Mark Rand at Bandage A/V in Peterborough, while Hooded Menace primarily recorded & mixed theirs at Horrishound Studios, and both songs were mastered at Transistor Studios in Finland by Mikko Saastamoinen. The AlgomA lineup here once again includes singer/bassist Kevin Campbell, guitarist Boyd Rendell, and drummer Jamie Vincent.

Hooded Menace are represented here by new singer Harri Kuokkanen, guitarists Lasse Pyykko and Teemu Hannonen, bassist Markus Makkonen, and drummer Pekka Koskelo. With the limited printing of orange vinyl discs now come & gone, your primary option for physical copies is Doomentia Records' website, where you can buy them for between $18 & $20 depending on currency exchange rates. AlgomA have yet to announce local in-person availability for the split, but you can stream both bands' songs via their Bandcamp pages linked here & here, though only AlgomA is charging for a download of their track there. Consider buying the split to support their work!

Unlike the 5 song AlgomA/Chronobot split from last year, this split is a single rather than an EP, and only has two songs (one a band), though this is par for the course for a Hooded Menace split, and each song runs for over 7 minutes. We'll start with the Soo's own AlgomA, whose featured song on the B-side is "Failed Stunt Fatality", which has a nice chugging riff to start and fiercely barked vocals from Kevin, and while the song is very doomy, it's reasonably paced and not as slow as some of their earlier originals. If anything, Kevin's singing seems a little hoarser, but it suits the material, and Boyd has some crushing parts even if he has no lead singing here, while Jamie's drumming is a reliable compliment, especially with the beat 5 minutes in! The song does feel a little over-long, but it never meanders, and it delivers more suitably brutal sludge metal action for AlgomA fans that would fit right in on prior releases!

Note that sampled audio at the end of "Failed Stunt Fatality" is of late sports broadcaster Frank Gifford calling Evel Knievel's failed jump over 13 buses in London in 1975 on ABC's Wide World of Sports, though unlike the title, Evel did survive the stunt. Lastly, we'll look at Hooded Menace's A-side contribution to the split, namely their song "Celestial Dissection", which in spirit, reminds me of later Celtic Frost merged with doom metal, even adding an orchestral flourish, and it works out well for them! Compared to guitarist Lasse Pyykko's prior work as the band's lead singer, Harri Kuokkanen has a clearer and more distinct growl from what I've heard, and he fits the material very well for his first outing! Lasse & Teemu deliver solid and brutal riffs, and Markus and Pekka handle the rhythm section with suitable efficiency and a consistent rhythm. I wasn't overly familiar with Hooded Menace going into this review aside from AlgomA plugs, but I think I'll have to get more acquainted with them in short order!

So, what are my final thoughts on Hooded Menace & AlgomA's split single? Well, for what this is, it's a quality release for doom metal fans, but I have reservations given it's release format. The two bands are a solid match, not just because of members' prior friendship before AlgomA launched, with each bringing their own doom-laden attack to the table, with sludge and death equally represented by each band! That said, for those who want physical copies, this won't be the most accessible type of release for many fans, especially with vinyl-only splits still being a rare thing locally for bands other than AlgomA. The lack of CD pressings or local in-person availability (yet), and the relatively high price point ($20 for 2 songs) will likely put off some potential customers, though you can stream the material online in the interim, and if you have the AlgomA/Chronobot split or any of Hooded Menace's, you'll know what to expect from this one anyway.

While I do enjoy the split, and while it has heavily encouraged me to check out more of Hooded Menace's music, I only recommend it to vinyl collectors and/or diehard fans of the two bands, but if you're either, order this split single online at the above links! I hope you guys liked this month's album review, but what's coming next in March? I'm not 100% certain as of this writing, but here's what we do know. Due to our 6 month anti-bias buffer, we are not reviewing anything by SweetKenny or Telephone & Address next, as both saw a CD review on the SMS in the past half year. Our next "Where Are the New Albums?" post on March 2nd will have insight on bands with upcoming albums that could be featured next, and while nothing is finite, remember that The Apocalypse Afterparty and Skeyes of Seven have both posted their entire debut EPs online for free streaming, so are they going on sale soon?

If nothing new comes out, we'll dip into the archives to review something tied in with a March concert, and heavy possibilities in that case would be A Fall From Innocence's self-titled EP (as frontman Larry Babic is playing live next month with A Dire Setback) and The Din's 2016 live album "The Din Does Laundry". Stay tuned in any event for updates on our next CD review, and stay tuned for more concert previews and updates in the coming days! Thanks everyone!

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