Review Summary: Blackened Filth Sludge Masterpiece Theatre
There’s got to be something in the waters of the Midwest US, something so toxic that I can’t quite nail down the substance that is breeding an entirely new group of metal bands spewing out the most foul-stench, ferocious sludge metal this side of the 2010s. Chicago’s Indian and further down the river, Indianapolis’s Coffinworm are making huge waves with their takes on a hulking sound that fuses doom and blackened crust together into what I can only consider the heaviest bands on earth. Leave it to Chicago’s Lord Mantis to come along and absolutely blow every expectation out of the water and knock down a few steel walls at the same time too. Sharing members with Indian, Avichi, and Abigail Williams (seriously, wtf"), Death Mask
is the bands third L.P. and their most fully realized album to date. While Spawning the Nephilim
were excellent in their own regards, Death Mask
is also a summation of all their perverted, twisted parts and ratcheted up to near disturbing levels of sheer terror.
It’s worth noting the controversial album art the listener will encounter before hitting play - tastefully drawn by Jef Whitehead of Leviathan fame – and I believe it’s like looking into the albums hideous subject matter through a broken, blood stained window. Honestly speaking though, this is one of those rare instances where the album art and music play a vital role together in showing the full expression of an artist rather than just painting in dicks, pussies and boobs for ***s and giggles. Diving into the music itself, ‘Body Choke’ is an appropriate album opener that slams down with a sludged-out doom tempo and in the blink of eye is off racing towards the blackened-sludge filth hills at a breakneck speed. ‘Death Mask’ is one of the speedier numbers that goes from warp speed to an immense lock-step groove that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Meshuggah album. These are the exceptional by-the-numbers tracks that only lead further into the albums perverted basement full of cess-pool doom and torturous tools of self-destruction. ‘Possession Prayer’, ‘Negative Birth’ and the godly ‘Three Crosses’ are the epitome of how to do filthy, sludge doom correctly. Each of these songs manifest into a cultish, ritual swirl of down-tuned fuzz and are built on the foundation of a junkie brawl in the deepest recesses of the murkiest alleyway, wonderfully injected with bits of powerviolence, dissonant melody (listen to that lead in ‘Three Crosses’) and a great sense of varying blackened tempo speeds. Vocalist Charlie Fell is what I would like to call the “tar icing on the scab cake” displaying a wide range of ***ed up ideas and lyrics (child molestation, suicide, death) through a range of shrieks and demonic yells. His subject matter and vocal delivery act as a further propulsion to the already massive sound the band has learned to bend and yield at their controlled disposal and it certainly gives the filth an extra edge over most bands in this field of sound.
When the album closes out, don’t be surprised when you go to push play again seeing as you will be knocked down hard on your ass the first time through and you might want to get up swinging. Lord Mantis has without a doubt created a pillar in the blackened sludge/ doom realm and it came through a time of much turmoil for most of the band members. In fact reading interviews with the members themselves, the album was almost never to be. That’s a testament in itself how much blood, sweat, semen, (name your bodily fluid of choice and insert here) the band members put into this filthy beast of an album. Whatever these guys are drinking, including all of the other Midwest US bands mining this territory, I only hope they start bottling this *** and dispensing it pronto!