LORD MANTIS gained the attention of many metalheads like myself with 2012’s Pervertor. Everything from the album art to the music was unapologetic. After spending a lot of time with that album, I knew that what came next had to be something truly staggering. Pervertor is a tall order to follow, and on their new record, Death Mask (via Profound Lore Records), they have created another stand out LP. Sure, I had high expectations after their sophomore effort, but once I heard that Ken Sorceron (ABIGAIL WILLIAMS) had joined the band on guitar, they only grew. Paired with guitarist Andrew Markuszewski (AVICHI, UNHOLY TRINITY), bassist/vocalist Charlie Fell and drummer Bill Bumgardner (INDIAN), LORD MANTIS is certainly overflowing with talent and Death Mask shows it.
“Body Choke” leads you into the record as a single sludgy, low-tuned guitar begins. Then, about 38 seconds in, a wall of guitars crushes through your speakers. The slow tempo continues, soon slightly picking up the pace. The guitars and bass sound huge and disgusting. Charlie Fell has never sounded better on vocals than he does on Death Mask. There is meaning, disgust, anger, hate, in every single word. None of it feels forced; this is real, the emotions portrayed are sincere. The song has a constant build to it without getting stale. Each minute is heavier than the last. The title track follows and is a favorite of mine; it is a faster paced song overall. The guitars standout to me the most, as the riffs are powerful and change often in their attack. There are some moments that they plod along and others of complete speed and chaos. Sections of noise are also peppered into the track. It is well composed and one of the heaviest songs I’ve heard in YEARS. You have to experience this one yourself.
The third track on Death Mask is titled “Possession Prayer.” The song seems to build upon the chant that kicks off the song. That section weaves its way back intermittently throughout the seven minute duration. As the number progresses, it becomes more rooted in noise and electronic sounds. “Possession Prayer” is dark in a much different way than the other tracks on the LP. “You Will Gag for the Fix” is the shortest track at 2:53. It is also 100% instrumental, serving as somewhat of a break in the album to separate the first half of chaos from the second half. It sounds and fits rather well.
“Negative Birth” introduces itself in a slow, doom oriented manner. The vocals and lyrical message are certainly at the forefront during the first 2:32. After that, the song slowly increases in tempo, soon giving way to all out blast beats and speed picked guitar riffs. The one that hits around 4:46 is absolutely infectious. Throughout my numerous listens of Death Mask, I found that portion getting stuck in my head the most. “Coil” has a doom atmosphere, while incorporating spoken vocals, as well as effects-driven vocals that sound like a cross between robotic and alien. It is a very eerie track, and that says a lot given the amount of terror flowing through this album.
The longest song on the album is the closer, “Three Crosses.” Beginning slow and ugly, it becomes more complex. The two guitar solo/melody sections beginning around 2:13 and 4:29 inject a somber outlook. During the first half, the song feels down trodden and depressing. To me, the second half seems like it has more anger and rage. In total, this song has black metal elements in its atmosphere, attitudes, and arrangement. I have never been able to classify anything LORD MANTIS does as a single genre, and this track is no exception. It has more to it than just a label, which is one of my favorite things about the band. As their previous record increased the music world’s awareness of the band, I feel that LORD MANTIS will continue to spread that awareness with Death Mask. I expect it will receive wide acceptance and accolades in the metal community, not only due to how crushingly heavy it is, but rather how different it is compared to most releases at this point in heavy music.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Death Mask”, “Negative Birth”, “Three Crosses”
WRITTEN BY ERIC THE BULL