Hooded Menace Front Man Markus Makkonen Talks about their upcoming album"Darkness Drips Forth"

On this year Finland based doom/death band Hooded Menace will release their fourth full length
album” Darkness Drips Forth”. Hooded Menace Front man Markus Makkonen unveiled
about  their upcoming album, bands history and many more. Already they are experienced and well renowned in underground music because of their astounding, critical acclaimed, heavy, claustrophobic misery ,enigmatic musical style. 
Earlier this fantastic doom/death metal band Hooded Menace served up some devastatingly
sacrilegious, rotten, phenomenal death metal album, EP. So recently I’ve interviewed Hooded Menace Vocalist Markus Makkonen. I was very keen to interact with him and I’ve tried to enlighten on their upcoming new album and tried to explore more about his bands. Check out the full interview below. Interview done by Souvik Basu.

1. Hello, how are you doing today?

Markus - Hi Souvik. All good here. Taking it easy just.

2. Hooded Menace was formed in 2007. From 2007 in each and every single year Hooded Menace
gifted us Full length album, EP, Split, demo’s, Can you give me a brief history of how the band got
together? Had you been in any bands or musical apparition before Hooded Menace?

Markus - Hooded Menace was born out of Lasse Pyykkö's need to get back and active with metal. He was in a band called Phlegethon in late 80's, early 90's.. HM was his return to all things heavy and murky, in that sense. From there things just kept growing. Now we're releasing the fourth Hooded Menace -album already. I haven't been in the band that long. Jumped abroad in 2012, around the time the previous full-length, Effigies of Evil, was out.
I had been recommended to Lasse for the vocalist slot in his grind/death band, Vacant Coffin, by a mutual friend. That never happened, but out of the blue, got an e-mail from him, asking if i could fill in for Hooded Menace's live-vocalist in a Madrid-show. A couple of years earlier i had been totally into Hooded Menace's album Never Cross the Dead, running around telling everybody how great that record was, so it would've been foolish to say no, really. From there, one thing led to another.. Not too long after Madrid-show, Menace's live bass player quit and Lasse asked if i'd like to handle that department too. Soon HM turned into a proper band, rather than a studio project it had been in the beginning and found myself playing bass on the new Hooded Menace -release of that time, Labyrinth of Carrion Breeze -Ep and still doing the live vocals too.. It has been like this for a couple of years now. That line up just sticked. So, this is how i got to be in the band.
- My own musical background comes from the Finnish metal demo scene of mid/late 90's. Been playing in various bands, with various styles, for 20 years now. The first "bigger thing" to happen to me was joining the Oulu-based death metal unit Sadistik Forest, in which i still am a member too.

3. what bands inspired the direction that Hooded Menace took and motivated you? Writers? Visual artists? Movies? Books?

Markus - Hooded Menace has been drawing from the source of horror films from the very beginning. Especially the 70's European horror flicks. That element of gloominess and horror will always be a part of our music. It is our concept. In the beginning it was coming more directly from certain cult classics, but these days the theme is there still, but in more abstract form.
Musically, we have been described of being somewhere in between Black Sabbathy doom and Autopsy-like death metal. I think those parts are still there. Maybe with a growing influence from British death/doom pioneers.

4. There are two basic ways of looking at music. In the first, there is a mechanism to the arrangement of certain tones ,musical style. in the second, a narration occurs where a story is told or a poetic function completed. In your view of compositions, which is more important? Where were you when you first thought the project had long term potential for you?

Markus - All music in Hooded Menace is written by Lasse. He is the soul of Hooded Menace, in that sense. We, the rest, are rather the performers, if you want to put it that way. I suppose, Lasse seeks for the improvement as a songwriter and emphasizing of certain moods, with his music for HM.

5. What for you is the significance of the name, “Hooded Menace”?

Markus - It comes from the Blind Dead -movies, really. where the hooded, bearded and eyeless undead suck the life our of their helpless victims... heheh. So, it suits a metal band well...

6. If you could tour with other bands in metal, who would you pick if you were looking for bands similar to Hooded Menace?

Markus - Winter would be one, definitely. They pretty much defined our kind of music with Into Darkness -album, back in the day. Guys from Asphyx are fantastic people and we keep on bumping into them at festivals here and there. That would be a killer tour too! Total crushing of the helpless!! We're going to tour with Mourning Beloveth this December. Looking forward to it also.

7. Hooded Menace  released their debut album in 2008. From 2007 Hooded Menace shaped the style of dom/ death metal music in a well manner. How do you maintain this consistency yet keep developing with each album? How do you write your riffs, songs? What is the most difficult part about composing songs as you do?

Markus - You really would need to ask Lasse about that, but as far as I see it, he avoids of making the same record twice. Rather, he keeps on evolving and opening new doors with his music. Darkness Drips Forth will be, once again, a different bag of bones, when compared to previous Hooded Menace albums. A different angle to the same thing, maybe.

8. Do you have a preference for type of equipment? In your mind, how important is equipment to the production of music?

Markus - It is pretty double-edged, really. Yes, you need certain level of equipment to work without distraction from the poor gear, but we are definitely no tech freaks or hi-fi geniuses.. We rather keep to the stuff we like, even there might be better quality equip available for doing the same thing. The tool has to fit the purpose, i think, and our music does not especially demand any state of the art technology.

9. well, now I’m going to the main point about new album “Darkness Drips Forth”. Already we have saw the new album artwork released and the Official album teaser from upcoming album “Darkness Drips Forth”. To be honest the artwork is wicked. I’m super amped for the manifestation from upcoming album and obviously for the whole album too haha well, When were these tracks written, and how does Hooded Menace go about the writing process?

Markus - Thanks man! Glad that you liked the cover. It was done by Justin Bartlett and it definitely is different from your regular metal cover, for sure. The material for Darkness... has been coming for a year, or year and a half, I think. Lasse writes all the music first, band hears the demos, and then we all start to look for suitable lyrics for the music. Finally, the rest of us learn our bits and pieces and we start to rehearse the new material as an band. It's mainly like is, if you put the long story short.

10. What's going on as far as lyrical themes on new album ?

Markus - It is the "suffocating horror"-feel still.. Definitely in more abstract form this time. Rather than writing some specific spook-story, we wanted to achieve maybe a style that will make each listener to find his/hers own view of the concept. It is definitely more like an painting, than a short novel, this time.

11. How did you get into this chaotic , multi-layered ,ultra-dense, monolithic death metal musical style laced with blackened, gloomy atmospheric vibe form of music and kindly explain about this music genre according to you?

Markus - Hahah! That is a nice way to put it! What struck me with Hooded Menace in the first place, back in the day when i was still "just" a fan, was the brilliant combination of two musical styles i adore - doom and death metal. The Sabbathian riffs are there, but it still has that Obituary/slow Morbid Angel -feel to it. Don't know what makes that kind of music seep out of Lasse's mind, but to me it sounds killer!

12.How would you describe the sound of the new album to someone who hadn’t heard it, and what distinguishes your music from any other act in the same genre?

Markus - Darkness Drips Forth is the most extreme Hooded Menace release, by far. It has our slowest and heaviest stuff in it, but also it has a strong emphasis on melody too. It really goes from extreme to extreme... Four songs and almost 45 minutes of melancholy and yet heavy music. Like Crowbar playing Bathory, if you want to put it that way.

13. Do you guys have any official videos coming out soon?

Markus - At the moment, I really do not know yet. The length of the songs, does set the difficulty level for a music video pretty high. Don't know really. It depends a lot of Relapse Records.

14. How do you explain the album title “Darkness Drips Forth”. what it means and the album art and how it coincides with the lyrics, themes?

Markus - The theme of "dripping death" occurs in the lyrics. It probably describes also the best the gloomy, doomy feel of the music too. Like something black oozing from your speakers and raining down (slowly) from the skies. Dripping darkness is also maybe a metaphorical way of putting things into perspective, where everything veers slowly towards it's natural end. It is really metaphorical and abstract with this one. Maybe listeners can come up with better description, after hearing the album and reading the lyrics! The album art, is once again based on our concept with the Blind Dead. Just like on every Hooded Menace album. Yet, it maybe has a little bit more deranged feel to it, this time.

15. Who came up with the album cover? I personally cherish Hooded Menace’s each and every album artwork because those are truly indelible, remarkable, appreciable too.

Markus - It is of Justin Bartlett's doing. We wanted to work with him, as he has definitely his own style, that stands out from your regular guy, definitely. We told him one or two main guidelines, but he took it from there.

16. What's the first gig you ever went to? Have you been to any killer live shows lately?

Markus - My first show? Hmm... That must've been some local punk show in Finland in mid-90's! When living in middle parts of Finland, like i was and when most of the bands coming from outside our country did only Helsinki back then, the supply was mainly just local bands. Luckily enough, i got to see Amorphis and Sentenced quite a many times. I saw Nightwish when they were a demo band just! But yeah, it was mainly Finnish bands only. One of the first ones from outside of Finland was Norwegian black metal band Covenant.
We played Jalometalli festival just recently. Got to see quite a many cool bands there. Shining, Candlemass, Tyranex, Saxon, Obituary... My definite favourites were Finnish legendary thrash band A.R.G. and the young devil-worshipping bunch Bonehunter.

17. In before you guys performed a lots of gigs so, Which show was the most memorable to you so far? Do you get a good crowd response? Did you get offers to play in other countries or anything like that?

Markus - The crowd thing in doom is very funny, at least to me, when i got to the scene after playing grindcore and death metal for quite some time... I mean, had seen just people going nuts, moshpits and such and then... BANG... you're fronting this way cool band and all you see is people standing and slowly swaying along to the music.. At first show, I was like... what... do they not like it?! Where is the pit?!? After the show, people came still telling how they had liked the show and appreciated it, but it took definitely a couple of shows to get used to it. Doom fans rather listen, than go mental, I suppose.
- There have been a couple of really cool ones we have done with HM. Hellfest being one, for sure. I mean, being in the same bill with Napalm Death, Asphyx, Candlemass, Kiss, Morbid Angel, Hypocrisy... it was just something truly awesome!! Maryland Deathfest was great too! We do not play that often, so each gig has it's own story to it, really.

18. Do you study other bands music to come up with ideas?

Markus - I suppose you will have try to cut that down, as the influences will sneak out even if you wanted them or not.

19. Appreciate your howling scream, hoarse ,snarling, sneering , deep rasps , deep lung-burning roars, immense voice. how do you prepare your vocals before the studio or especially for live performances? Did any band in particular inspire you in the shrieking department?

Markus - Death metal/extreme metal vocals are something I have been able to do naturally, well, as long as I've tried. I don't have any special care-taking or warm up to it. Just plunge into it. Can keep the voice intact on tours and will not have to force anything. This is why i do the live vocals in Hooded Menace. We, the rest of the band, keep forcing Lasse to do the studio-vocals still, as he really has an unique sound to it. It has the cobwebs!! Hahah! But he does not like it at all, so out of practicality, I do that part live.
In Sadistik Forest i do a lot of that low growl/high scream -thing. I don't know if anybody in particular inspired me to do it that way, but have always appreciated guys who can do a variety of things with their voice.. Like Dani Filth, Burton C. Bell and Glen Benton (especially early days). Steve Tucker has been an influence to me and of course Corpsegrinder... Nick Holmes... Started doing death metal as a kid, when somebody said that my grunts sounded like Chris Barnes.. So, he too. Definitely.

20. Is there a difference in the band’s sound as compared to the EPs and full length album you’ve released in the past?

Markus - Now? Well... We had a different studio environment this time. We went to England, instead our regular hide-out in Finland, to work with Chris Fielding (Napalm Death, Electric Wizard etc). Especially, we wanted to get bigger sound to bass and drums and i think we did that.

21. Relapse Records  has been a great supporter of extreme metal, you’re signed to them now. How did this happen?

Markus - Don't know the facts, as i was not in the band when the deal was done, but as far as I’ve gathered, they contacted HM (amongst a couple of other labels) after our deal with Profound Lore ran out and well.. they had the best offer. Relapse is also know for their work with extreme bands, just like you said, so they do know how to market and work with our kind of thing.

22. What do you do as individual band members to relax, when not working on music? Do you have jobs or business?

Markus - When playing something as marginal as death/doom metal, it is really hard to get by, just by the music itself. I have a job outside the bands, to survive. Never been a very career oriented person, so as long as the work provides me enough money to survive AND it makes playing metal possible, I'm 100% ok with it. Never wanted to be a attorney, doctor or anything.. Was not motivated enough as an student for that, but luckily enough, I've always found a job somewhere, that takes a long haired metal guy onboard. Music is basically my time off... If not playing, at least listening to it with extreme passion. You can't take that away from me, really. Way of life kind of an thing.... The same goes for all of us, I suppose.

23. What albums are you listening to lately or just the bands and albums in general you're really digging right now and tell me about your anticipated album of this year?

Markus - Just recently, I've been listening a lot the new albums by Bell Witch, Ghost and Arcturus. New Paradise Lost is a splendid record too! Of the albums to be released yet, I’m looking forward the most for new My Dying Bride, maybe. Want to listen the new Grave Pleasures album, and Public Image Ltd also. Oh, and I've heard that the new Amorphis one will be way heavier than their previous ones, due the Tales from the 1000 Lakes -shows they did, so will check that one out for sure. 

24.last one question, what are your future band goals & tell us  something about upcoming tour. Lastly, a lots of teenagers aim to be full-time musicians. Many of them might be without any proper guidance, any words of wisdom for them?

Markus - Well, Darkness Drips Forth is out at October 30th. We play the official album release show in Turku, the next day, at Finnish death metal festival Turun Kuolema. In December we head out to Europe for 10 shows, with Mourning Beloveth. Starting from Hamburg, ending to Eindhoven Metal Meeting. It will be pure doom-mayhem, I guarantee that!
Will be cool to see where this album will take us after that. Hopefully to some new locations again. Sadistik Forest is also recording the third studio album as we speak. Will be doing my bass lines for that, very soon. There's also a old school death metal project with guys from Satanika coming.. So, a lot is on it's way.. Hope you like it!!
As far advices go, i might not be the best guy to give them, but i suppose the main one is to be patient. Very few today, if any, will have the overnight success. It takes guts to grind your way to bigger and bigger stages... A lot of blood, sweat and beers.. But don't give up! If you want it badly, things will happen for you. Sooner or later. Wanting it, is the key, i think.

25. That's all I've got right now. best of luck for upcoming release .This album is one of my anticipated release of this year. thanks a lot for enduring this torture haha. Any final thoughts, comments for the readers? If I forgot anything, please insert it in here.

Markus - Thanks for the well-though questions bro! Let's keep it extreme!! 

Interview done by Souvik Basu. Published on 05/09/2015

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