HOODED PRIEST

For the longest of time I thought that HOODED PRIEST was Finnish black metal assault but boy was I wrong. This Dutch band are nothing but doom metal and have been so for over a decade now. Anders Ekdahl ©2017

How important is the band’s name in giving out the right kind of vibe?>
-When we started this band, someone suggested we’d use ‘Hooded Priest’ as a moniker. That very same night, Luce got the idea of our Reverend Death mascot and drew the band logo. He still had a scythe at home that he had used before and thought that it would fit the imagery.
We all love to make slow-paced music for a change, in fact, when we started our riffs were a kind of thrash metal riffs, but at a very slow tempo. Our own take on doom metal was born and we believe that our band name fits perfectly. It was not that we were aiming for the charts you know…

I wanted to start a band in the 80s but couldn’t find the right people to do so with. What was it that made you want to do the band?
-We all have different musical backgrounds, but at the same time, we share a fascination for dark, heavy and atmospheric music – probably as an alternative or a supplement to the other stuff we’re doing. There’s just something about the ‘feel’ – both musical and physical – of ultra-heavy doom metal that you don’t find in any other genre. It’s truly inspiring and captivating. Plus, with our new line-up, we’re really a bunch of good friends, looking forward to what the future will bring.

With so many genres and sub-genres of metal today what is your definition of the music you play?
-As mentioned earlier, we started out playing a sort of slow-paced thrash metal, but this has evolved quite a bit over the last few years. While labels can be restricting, I’d simply describe the music of Hooded Priest as ‘traditional doom metal’. At the same time, however, our new songs tend to focus more on the emotion and slowness of our riffs – while trying to avoid sounding like another Black Sabbath or My Dying Bride clone – so maybe ‘untraditional doom metal’ might be a better description.

How do you arrange the tracks? Is there a method to how you arrange the songs on a record?
-Joe writes most of our material and records them as sketches in his studio. Then, Luce comes up with the lyrics and the vocal tracks, while Quornelius delivers the drums. Jeff also writes his own riffs and leads, which Joe will add if they serve and compliment the song in the right way. When it’s all put together, we listen and see if things work and decide whether the song is finished or still needs adjustments. It’s a group process, really.

I am fascinated by how people can still come up with things that haven’t been done before, chord structures that haven’t been written, sentences that haven’t been constructed before. Where do you find your inspiration to create?
-I believe that, in our case, it’s an attitude thing – and a result of our very diverse musical influences. There are a lot of talented bands in our genre, but at the same time, the sheer abundance of so-called doom metal bands creates an overlap – In the sense that it’s very easy to sound just like ten other bands in the same genre. I feel that we have a different approach – when writing our songs, Joe doesn’t start with a metal riff at all, but rather, he has musical landscapes in his head – a soundscape that has to capture a feeling or emotion – and uses that as the basis of our songs. Riffs or parts are only added to the song if they perfectly complement the emotion, or idea he wants to convey – if not, they’ll be deleted. It’s a lengthy and sometimes frustrating process, but in the end, it’s the results that count.
Then, when Joe records his sketches, he often gives them a working title. A few tracks on our new album – The Hour Be None – are lyrically based on these working titles, particularly when they seem to fit a concept that was already wavering in my mind. It’s this compatibility between music and lyrics that creates a good song, together with the ritualistic drum pounding of Quornelius and Jeff’s seventies-inspired, soulful riffing. It all contributes to a rather pure-bred, energetic form of doom metal that is waiting to be unleashed on stage.

How important is the graphic side of the band? How much thought goes into art work etc?
-We really rely on Luce to do the artwork for the band, as we prefer to keep things in our own hands as much as possible – and he does put a lot of thought and effort in his designs. Our new album, The Hour Be None, for example, marks a new start for us: with a new sound and a stronger, revamped line-up. This, in effect, is represented in the artwork through the use of various symbols. Our Reverend Death mascot is gone, but still vaguely present as a shadow on the album cover – as a fading memory, still coming through the window of reality. Similarly, if our debut album Devil Worship Reckoning was 9 o’ clock (9 being the devil’s number), our new album represents midnight, the witching hour, when ghosts reign freely – this is the quarter circle you’ll find on the album cover, with the letters HP set at 12 o’ clock.

I get the feeling that more and more metalheads too are just downloading single tracks. Is the album as relevant today as it was in the 70s and 80s? Is digital killing the album?
-This is something that we don’t recognise ourselves. The Internet is a great resource for discovering new and talented bands and musicians from all over the world. Of course, you always listen to a particular song first, but if it’s good and the rest of the tracks are equally good, we normally buy the entire album. We believe it’s important to support and show support for all the great underground metal bands out there.

Are we killing our beloved metal scene by supporting digital downloading or can anything positive come from supporting single tracks and not albums? Will the fan as we know him/her be gone soon?
-There are still fans driving 100’s of kilometres to see their favourite bands performing live and experience their music in its truest essence, so I’d say that ‘the fan’ as you call it, is still very much alive. Additionally, in our genre, people still buy CD’s and LP’s as they appreciate the physical aspect of music as well, the feel of holding an album, looking at the artwork etc. Jeff and Quornelius, in our case, both have an immense vinyl collection. So we don’t believe it’s an ‘either – or’ situation, but rather an ‘and – and’. As to what the future will bring, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Is there a scene to speak of for a band like yours? Where do you fit in?
-We tend to get a good response from the crowd when playing live, at shows and festivals. The doom metal scene is not as big and trendy as, for instance, the black or stoner metal scene nowadays, but it’s easy to discover new bands and meet old friends. Everyone’s usually really friendly and supporting – both the fans and our fellow musicians. We feel right at home!

What does the future hold?
-We are currently on tour promoting our new album – The Hour Be None – which will be released with Sweden’s I Hate on 1 December. As mentioned earlier, our song writing process can be quite lengthy, we’re simply not a band that releases a new album every year. At the same time, these last two years, we’ve been more productive than ever. We’re always working on new material – in fact, we already have some three brand-new songs for our third album – but when they will be released, we have no idea…

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