There are certain albums that you wait for months and months for, anticipating like a child anticipates a visit from the fat guy in the red suit every 25th day of December. In the back of your mind though there’s that constant nagging feeling though that what you’re waiting for may not live up to the hype you’ve personally heaped upon it. How could anything live up to the billing we sometimes give our favorite band’s newest arrivals? Rest assured, dear reader, that if you’ve been waiting impatiently or with bated breath for the newest album from Chicago’s Lord Mantis that your wildest dreams of another outlandish dose of auditory brutality are about to come to fruition.
The last Lord Mantis album, Pervertor, came out of almost nowhere. Only those truly committed to the darkest bowels of the metal underground knew of, or were prepared for what this band was about to deliver. It was an absolutely visceral and abusive experience. Multiple listens never dulled the unnerving feeling that album conveyed. Frankly, it was downright frightening at times. Fast forward two years and a ton of expectations later and Lord Mantis have once again brought us an album that sits somewhere between the macabre and the disturbing. Third full length, Death Mask, is a triumph of grizzly proportions.
The opening riff of album opener, “Body Choke” is like a flare going off in a dense forest, emanating outward to reveal the ghastly horrors that await. It signals quite clearly that the journey you’re about to partake in is going to be a nasty one. Buckle up. It’s a bumpy ride to the gates of hell and back again. But that’s almost every track on this album really. The title track smacks you around with an old school death metal aesthetic like a cat with a dead mouse, leaving little blood splatters all over the kitchen floor. “Negative Birth” starts out a sludge fan’s naughty dream with it’s dirge-like delivery only to explode into a black metal styled fury, as cold and frostbitten as an icy corpse being consumed by ravenous wolves.
This convergence of styles and concepts are delivered with aplomb. From the throwback blend of first wave black metal and old school death metal to the doom, sludge and various levels of psychedelia, Lord Mantis have eaten of the forbidden fruits and spit the seeds back into the Earth to cultivate their own blend of sonic evil. The vocals are some of the fiercest and corrosive in all the metal world. The guitar playing is haunting and effective, and the rhythm section is like a thundering herd of mammoths. This album from note one to close is a Herculean effort of bloodthirstiness and barbarity. Lord Mantis don’t just go into the studio, they go into war with all the demons of Hell behind them, raping, pillaging and taking whatever they want upon every listen.
Death Mask is out April 29 on Profound Lore Records. You can listen to the track “Body Choke” over at the Porfound Lore website.