ALBUM: DEATH MASK
GENRE: BLACKENED SLUDGE
Chicago’s Lord Mantis are back with their third record, “Death Mask” a visceral and challenging blackened sludge album that gives “filth” a brand new definition.
Coming off of 2012’s ‘Pervertor’, blackened sludge group Lord Mantis have managed to revise their sound, adding in a new layer of experimentation with their latest outing, Death Mask. Death Mask, much like Lord Mantis’s past work, is an anomalistic pit of filth and aggression that will easily dominate you and poke at the back of your head with a cattle prod, forcing you to submit to the dark and twisted nature that this album truly portrays. If you have any hope within yourself, Death Mask will destroy it and laugh mercilessly as it chews out the inside of your throat. If you want to know what absolute filth and hatred sounds like when thrown together, this slab of wrath and explicit exploitation will give you an idea of everything you shouldn’t have wanted to know.
The most notable thing about Death Mask is that it doesn’t retain a particular sound throughout its (roughly) 47 minute length. Every track features a very grimy and heavily distorted production, but what separates each song is the ability to switch up the influences and exhibit Lord Mantis’s genre-bending capabilities. While every song is ostensibly vile and menacing, they each have their own personality and that is where this album truly shines. ‘Body Choke’ and ‘Negative Birth’ both beautifully showcase doom and sludge-influenced riffs that range from being slow-burning headbangers to fast-paced frenzies, with the punchy drums doing all that they can to make the slower passages more ominous or the faster sections that much more apocalyptic.
Tracks such as ‘Three Crosses’ and ‘Death Mask’ present huge black metal influences, with the drums rumbling over some very monstrous fast-paced riffs. These tracks also showcase more varied compositions, with every section building upon the tormented and wretched atmosphere of the piece preceding it. However, the track that melds both of these influences together while keeping a huge industrial vibe is the third track, titled ‘Possession Prayer’. The percussion in this song is one of the driving forces, as it helps keep the ominous and overwhelming atmosphere alive throughout its 7 minute length. The passages in this track are especially long-winded eventually fade into a very eerie, distorted and glitchy outro.
With all of the aforementioned tracks highlighting the main foci of the record, there are two tracks that serve as oddballs which still work very well. ‘You Will Gag for the Fix’ is short, instrumental, semi-melodic piece that serves as the halfway point and despite the fact that it diverts from the album’s wretched and noisy nature, it is still an interesting track that doesn’t slow down the pacing, nor does it bore the listener by any means. ‘Coil’ is also an interesting track that directly precedes the final track, being the aforementioned ‘Three Crosses’. ‘Coil’ is again a relatively slow track, yet still sounds so menacing due to the destructive drum patterns and the modulation on the vocals. The main riff is very slow paced and always seems to hint at impending doom.
Though Death Mask is a fantastic and entertaining album from beginning to end, it is most certainly not an album for everybody. The vocals are so wretched, tormented, and distorted that most of the time it’s not an easy task to hear the lyrics, but when the lyrics are even remotely audible the listener will discover that they are most something explicit and potentially offensive. This album is filthy, filthy to its core, although despite its disgustingly challenging nature, Death Mask is a very solid record that will satisfy anybody who needs something off-the-wall and heavy. With its 7 song tracklist and 47 minute runtime, there is not a moment that becomes too monotonous or otherwise boring.