Death doom metal seldom receives the attention it deserves. A few prominent names hold this genre together, such as Mythic, Funebrarum, and Coffins. This sound is more than just Slayer-meets-Black Sabbath. Low-end slow parts, speedier grooves, and constipated grunts make up death doom. Most albums pay tribute to '80s horror with corpse-laden artwork and classic film clips. Like many music canons, there's only so much variation left for originality. But disregarding predictable riffs, artwork, and vocal style, Finland's Hooded Menace strike big.

Fulfill the Curse (Razorback, 2008) is astounding for a first full-length. Hooded Menace pack goodies from doom predecessors Saint Vitus, Electric Wizard, and Winter alike. But they do it with a punch in the gut. Feel the burn in "Beauty and the Feast." Vocalist/guitarist Lasse Pyykkö seduces with groove, something he adopted from playing Candlemass songs. Synchronized guitars, meat-pounding percussion, and fatty vocals loosen muscles. The track pulls past seven minutes, which isn't uncommon for Hooded Menace. Miniature solos and melodies add pleasant surprises. Despite the muddied sound, the execution is sharp. Hooded Menace are perfectionists, preferring to record new material instead of touring. They can stay at home all they want, but they had better keep new stuff coming.

- Jess Blumensheid