Lord Mantis - Death Mask
Profound Lore Records
Sludge/Black Metal
7 songs (47:10)
Release year: 0
Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Neill

Lord Mantis hit it out of the park with their last album, Pervertor and when I heard they were releasing a new album on the great Profound Lore records, I could hardly contain my excitement. For those unaware, Lord Mantis are a sludge/black metal band based in Chicago, IL. There had been a lot of talk about the album due to the artwork, done by Wrest of Leviathan, and a lot of anticipation for the album to be unveiled to the public. Now, is the album itself worthy of the hype that it has been getting? Is it really as dark as people say? Simply put, Yes.

The album starts off with an incredibly dirty, sludgy riff, which acts as a great introduction to the record, and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Bassist/Vocalist Charlie Fell's voice is so strained and agonizing in the record, that the pain seeps through the speakers. Body Choke was the first song released from the album, and the first track as well. I do not have any lyrics in front of me, but from what I can make out, it seems t be filled with anger, and despair. The riffs are heavy, plodding, and catchy. The bass is thick, and helps provide a great backing to the guitars. The drums pound away intensely, sometimes faster than others, but always done to compliment, and add to the song, and never detract. By the time the song is done, I already feel the need to shower. The second track, the titular Death Mask continues the onslaught, but it is a bit more of an upbeat or faster paused track. At times, the vocals come off more distorted, but never any less anguished, and even few high pitched shrieks make their way on to the track. There are some industrial sounds coming in to the mix as well, which get explored more on the next track, Possession Prayer.

At this point, the album has already had two tracks that are similar, but have little things to help make them stand out from one another. The next track, the aforementioned Possession Prayer does even more to stand out by having more industrial sounds in the song. The lyrics are a bit more repetitive as well in this track. Honestly, this track brings the album down a bit for me. It is not a bad track by any means, as it still fits in with the album as a whole, but It just doesn't have that punch that the rest of the album seems to have for me. Track 4 is an interlude track, and is a pretty nice break from the intense sludge and screaming in the album so far. before you know it though, Negative Birth, featuring Dylan from Indian kicks in. The slow sludgy guitars and drums lead way to some pained screams. That is a very common theme on the album: Pain. The track starts a bit slower, but then features a great, fast black metal section about the halfway mark, that leads until the end of the track.

Penultimate track Coil has some spoken word vocals in the beginning, and some industrial/robotic style vocals in the track, but is largely instrumental. There is also a sample at the end of the track leading to the final track. It is one of the more interesting tracks due to the vocal techniques, and provides a great lead in to the final track, Three Crosses. At slightly over 10 minutes, this is the longest track on the record, and a great way to end the album. Despite the length of the track, the band wastes no time getting into it, and the song remains interesting throughout its run time. We do get some a nice melodic lead around the half way mark, which is ver welcome, and tastefully done as well. The second half of the track picks up the pace, and the song takes a more black metal approach. Adding in the industrial sounds, the song becomes much more cacophonous by the end.

Death Mask is a great record. The production, done by the always great Sanford Parker, is clear, while still being fuzzy, dirty, and disgusting (in the best way, of course). The musical and vocal presentation is strong, and memorable, and the songs are different enough that the album does not sound like one noise over and over again, while still maintaining a similar feel and theme throughout. The band mixes the black metal moments with the sludge moments so well, and even some of the industrial sounds fit well in the bands sound. I felt the prior album Pervertor was a great record when it came out, but Death Mask feels like a more complete, or more realized version of the band and their sound. There was only one track that was a little bit of a let down for me, but that is one small complaint among a lot of praise. I feel this is an album we will be hearing about for quite some time. If you have not checked it out yet, please listen to the first track here. Now please excuse me, I need a shower or two.

Killing Songs :
Body Choke, Death Mask, Coil, Three Crosses
Neill quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Lord Mantis that we have reviewed:
Lord Mantis - NTW (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Lord Mantis - Pervertor reviewed by Charles and quoted 80 / 100
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