Tuesday, September 11, 2012


What do you do when the same label (Relapse Records in this case) puts out two albums in the same sub-genre on the same day, and you happen to hear both of them as soon as they're released? Naturally you put them side by side and decide which is better. Obviously neither record has really had a chance to sink in yet, so today instead of a full review of either I've decided to do a heads-up comparison. It's time to let these two do battle!
Hooded Menace                                             Serpentine Path
Album: Effigies of Evil                                  Album: Serpentine Path
death/doom metal                                          death/doom metal
From: Joensuu, Finland                                  From: New York/Jersey 

Hooded Menace have been around for a few years, and this is their third album. All the band members have been involved in other small projects as well, so these guys are pretty well seasoned. Serpentine Path are a brand new band releasing their full-length debut, but their lineup is essentially Unearthly Trance with two additional musicians. One of those musicians is Tim Bagshaw, the original Electric Wizard bassist, and the other is Stephen Flam of Winter.

Stylistically, these bands reside on different points in the death/doom spectrum. Hooded Menace are clearly more rooted in death metal, with a sound somewhat reminiscent of Autopsy. Serpentine Path, on the other hand, are more of a doom band with death growls for vocals. Hooded Menace have a medium slow pace, good energy, medium range death vocals, some interesting and creative guitar work, sharp drumming, and a tendency to use sound samples from old horror movies to add atmosphere. Serpentine Path move at a sluggish crawl, have really beefy riffs, guttural vocals, cavernous drumming, and crushingly heavy bass.

So which is better? Well I suppose that depends on what you're looking for. To put it simply: if you like some doom in your death you'll probably prefer Hooded Menace, but if you like some death in your doom then Serpentine Path is for you. Both these records are very strong, and I will probably continue to listen to both of them in the future.

With all that being said, I do have a winner picked. The deep, monolithic crush of Serpentine Path really gets it done for me on a level that the other does not. They get the nod, then, and Hooded Menace will have to settle for being a worthy opponent to the champ.

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