(On November 22nd Profound Lore will release a new album by Lord Mantis, and today we share with you Todd Manning‘s review.)
It’s the return of the filth, courtesy of Lord Mantis. These people have been absent for five long years, but they are ready to reopen festering wounds with their new full-length, Universal Death Church, out November 22nd on Profound Lore Records.
At one point this entity appeared to be dead, but the group decided to rebuild burnt bridges in order to honor the memory of drummer and founding member Bill Bumgardner. Universal Death Church is an immense statement by the reformed line-up, a sprawling testament to chaos and sadism, done as only Lord Mantis knows how to do.
For the uninitiated, Lord Mantis are a genre unto themselves, gleefully pulling from Black Metal and Sludge, from Industrial to pure Doom, to construct an architecture of pure misanthropy. Tracks like “Santa Muerta” and “Fleshworld” both show the group capable of unleashing the rawest of paint-peeling Black Metal. The former seems almost like a short but effective intro to the album, but “Fleshworld” is a much more ambitious affair. The track starts off with vicious and grinding Black Metal and is accentuated by an alternating blast riff that is even more noisy and chaotic than the passage it complements. When the tempo slows down, the listener is hammered with a hypnotic riff that would do mid-period Darkthrone proud. This alternates with a moodier passage, then followed by a Doom Metal breakdown. Things ultimately slow down to an agonizing crawl, bloody knees on broken glass, dragging the body into the blackest abyss.
Honestly, every song here is a highlight. “Qliphotic Alpha” sounds like Killing Joke turned into an a division of heavy tanks rolling across a post-apocalyptic landscape, while “Consciousness.exe” is a swaggering piece of Industrial Metal, exuding equal parts ominous menace and snarling aggression. This track ends with a bit of Gothic clean guitar overlaying the mechanical riff underneath. This segues perfectly into “Low Entropy Narcosis”, a strategic left-turn for the group. This song is an acoustic number with a distinct Death in June or Current 93 feel. Despite the softer approach, the overwhelming darkness fits in well with the rest of Universal Death Church.
The album closes with the epic track “Hole”. This song coalesces around a hypnotic Sludge riff, and the group is joined by producer Sanford Parker on synths and Yakuza mainman Bruce Lamont on saxophone. The additional instrumentation helps to expand the scope of the song, making the band’s signature filth and menace feel like it’s being played out on a much larger stage. The song ends with a strange sample, some ancient snippet of innocent vaudeville melody, rendered sinister by its juxtaposition with the music leading up to it.
Some bands soften with age, their increased adeptness at songwriting wearing down the sharp edges of their initial muse. Not Lord Mantis. Their mission seems to revolve around getting nastier and heavier with each subsequent release, and Universal Death Church represents another step forward on the road to this never-ending hell. For all the talk of misanthropy in the Metal world, these guys put their money where their mouth is and deliver the nihilism and degradation in spades. All that is left is to ask ourselves why we love this negativity so much?