Interview with Lasse Pyykkö of Hooded Menace


The imagery of a 70’s Euro Horror film is very heavy metal….

Ahead of the compilation of all of the tracks from their split releases since 2007 entitled Gloom Immemorial to be released on 19 December, MR’s Jason Guest caught up with Lasse Pyykkö, mainman of Finnish Death / Doom titans Hooded Menace to discuss the album, reflect on the different lineups through the years, heavy metal and horror, and plans for April 2015 when they will be recording a new album…

Hi Lasse. This is Jason from Midlands Rocks. Thanks for taking time out for this interview.

Hi Jason! No problem. Thanks for having me.

Gloom Immemorial, a compilation of tracks from The Eyeless Horde and the numerous splits you’ve released over the years, is to be released on 19 December. Why did you choose to put these tracks together for a release now?

We’ve had this idea in mind for a long time, and now the time is right. We had pretty much an ideal amount to stuff to put on a CD, and we’re not going to record EPs or splits any time soon, so it’s great timing to do this now. These songs have been available on limited vinyl only, and most of them have sold out a long time ago. We know a lot of people missed out on them, but now they can have ‘em all wrapped into one CD.

What’s it like for you to return to them and hear the different line-ups?

It’s pretty exciting. You know, I don’t usually listen to my own records much at all, because I’m sick of hearing them when I finally get out of the studio (laughs), but Gloom Immemorial has been pretty fascinating jam. It draws together the whole timeline of the band so far, there’re many memories, different line ups, and the song material is strong and quite diverse. Of course there’s a little bit different vibe and touch between the performances of different line ups, which is interesting. A couple of songs are sung by Oula (Kerkelä, vocalist 2010-2011), and when you play the album through, it’s nice to hear how well his voice actually fits. It doesn’t pop up in your face that there’s a different vocalist in there, for better or for worse (laughs).

Also the chronological tracking order makes it exciting listen to sit through. Anybody that says we’ve always offered nothing but more of the same – which is true to some extent – should play Fulfill the Curse and Chasm of the Wraith back to back. A lot of melodies and harmonies have crept into the newer stuff. In a way it’s a lot braver stuff than the old material. Honestly, I like everything we’ve done, but it’s good to see we’ve managed to refine it a little bit over the years, and we intend to keep doing so.

Hooded Menace - Gloom ImmemorialCan you tell us about the album artwork design and what it represents?

It sorta represents the end of a certain era. The Templar is dead, but the gloomy memory lives, and in this memory dwells revenge, which is to be unleashed upon you in the form of our future releases. Or something like that.

The artwork is by Chris of Misanthropic Art. Why did you choose to work with Chris? And how much direction did you give?

Chris did a great drawing for our split with Loss, and he was very easy to work with. I knew he does acrylic paintings, and we were really into having a painting instead of a drawing for the compilation, to give it a little bit more solemn look sort of. I came up with the concept, and he did absolutely excellent job based on it. It’s got an old horror movie poster vibe to it. I love how he painted the blood writing. We couldn’t be much happier the way it turned out.

Hooded Menace cite 80’s Candlemass, Cathedral, Autopsy, Asphyx, early Paradise Lost, Winter, and Black Sabbath as well as the Blind Dead movies as influences. What is it about these sources instead of other bands, musical styles, or movies that you found so inspiring?

I think doom metal goes deeper than any other style of metal. It’s extremely powerful without being too much in your face. You can put more emotion into the songs when you don’t have to play 9378 notes in a few seconds; you’re freer from technical executing. It’s very merciful music (laughs). It’s pretty profound yet quite primitive form of art, and it simply just fits to us. I can totally identify with it. When it comes to movies, and in particularly 70’s Euro Horror, it’s the atmosphere and gothic setting that appeals to me. You get eerie castles, fog-shrouded graveyards, damp dungeons, old world mystique, rural charm – all in its gritty glory. It just hits all the right spots. It’s not hard to figure that sort of stuff to go well with the kind of music we play.

Metal and Horror go hand in hand. Why do you think this is?

Both forms of art are extreme, powerful, and sorta larger-than-life. There’s a dark element to both of them. It’s great escapism. The imagery of a 70’s Euro Horror film is very heavy metal.

In April 2015, you’ll be recording your new album. How’s writing going? Are all the tracks written or are you still working on them?

That’s right. All music is already written. It was quite painless process actually. I made sure to focus on it 100%, so that I was free from other projects etc., and so that I was absolutely craving for writing. That’s of course a great mindset to be in when beginning on such process. So the music came together relatively fast. It’s never easy, but it was easier than I expected it to be after three albums and bunch of smaller releases. The new songs are longer and slower too, I guess. It’s probably our heaviest and most melodic stuff to date; it’s very morose and sorrowful. There’s a fresh element to it, yet it’s still unmistakably Hooded Menace. Currently we’re working on the lyrics for the last couple of songs.

You’ll be working with Chris Fielding of Electric Wizard, Moss, and Napalm Death notoriety. Why choose to work with Chris? And why Skyhammer Studios in the UK?

We wanted to try something new. You know, we already did Monuments of Misery (Hooded Menace/Loss split) with him, and it was really nice to work with him, so we thought maybe we should try this guy for the full album, and instead of sending stuff back and forth via internet – which can be pain in the ass – we should go to his studio in the UK to record with him. There’s too much shooting in the dark when working in distance, so we need to be present. Chris’s CV is convincing, he’s a doomhead, and he knows how to handle a band of our kind, and they have a great selection of amps at Skyhammer, so I’m pretty confident this is going to turn out to be a monster.

Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?

Not much. Get yourself a copy of Gloom Immemorial. Thanks for the interview!