Unkind – Harhakuvat

Back in August, when most of us were trying to get a bit of sunshine on our backs and find a long enough break in the rain to fire up the barbie, Finland was the setting for the unleashing of this furious slab of prime D-Beat from Unkind.  I know that it’s always tempting to refer to the dark/cold/extreme northern-ness of Scandinavia when reviewing a release from bands hailing from this region, but in this case, you can’t draw any other conclusions.  ‘Harhakuvat’ is a collection of despair and rage, with few let ups.

A five piece band, this eight track ep is their fifth release since 2005, and although there is an obvious influence of Discharge simply by virtue of this being classified as ‘D-Beat’, the influences on show here range from metal to downtuned all out punk that brings to mind the hellish despair of Wolfbrigade’s excellent ‘Damned’ outing earlier in the year.  Slow, metallic passages give way to all out headlong rushes into a snowdrift of angry punk.  I dunno if it’s something in the water up there, or if it’s the long periods of night time and the price of a beer [ok, that’s enough cliches thanks…..Finland Tourist Board] but something has got under these boys’ skin and they have produced a powerful, hard hitting slab of dark punk rock.  Have a bad day and then play this loud!

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Effigies of Evil: Hooded Menace

Earlier in the year, we raved about the quality and quantity of doom that was emanating from Poland – bands such as Major Kong, Dopelord, Belzebong to name but three. Well the talk on the more doom-influenced blogs out there is that Finland is on fire as far as slow, heavy doom is concerned! I can kind of understand why this style is popular up there, it being generally speaking cold, dark and windy with the added inconvenience of a beer costing as much as a small house. Add these problems together and they multiply out of control, until you are left with the reasons why Hooded Menace were probably formed.

Now this is fully at the ‘metal’ end of the doom spectrum, which is not really the territory in which I feel most comfortable, my superb and honed punk sensibilities making me feel uneasy where white face paint, the iconography of death and funerals is concerned. But this slab is a really ripping mass of down tuned heaviness that bludgeons you into submission with every beat of the drums. Recalling late 80s and early 90s proto-doom with death-grunted vocals like Cathedral, for example, Hooded Menace carve out an epic, monolithic collection of deep, impenetrable riffs and a grey fog of cold, bleak doom. Chugging guitars twist the smoke that seeps out of the speakers, while the relentless drums shatter your bones and the vocals suck the life out of anybody in hearing distance, replacing it with emptiness and despair. Nice!

Hooded Menace, which emphatically does not seem to be a lament about the hordes of young boys roaming our streets with their Nike trainers and faces hidden by the hoods on their JJB Sports sweatshirts, have delivered an album which extends to eight tracks, not especially long but all harrowing in their own way. This is a slab of doom that you might wish to chuck on the stereo at considerable volume following the loss of a job/girlfriend/home/dog – it will almost certainily cast you into a swirling pit of despair from which you will only emerge a better, wiser man [or wo-man].