(In this post NCS writer BadWolf reviews the new album by Chicago’s Lord Mantis – Death Mask).
There is something deeply wrong with the minds and hearts of Charlie Fell, Andrew Markuszewski, Bill Bumgardner, and Ken Sorceron, who together form Lord Mantis. I’m not sure how we didn’t know before—each of these musicians has made waves in the underground for quite some time as members of Nachtmystium, Avichi, Indian, and Abigail Williams, among other bands. But there’s just something deeply upsetting about the music they make together as Lord Mantis on their new album, Death Mask.
At this point, people probably know the Chicago-based black-sludge outfit best for their filthy taste in cover art. 2012’s critically-acclaimed album Pervertor featured a limbless, vaginal Jesus being gang-penetrated by some Lovecraftian tongue beasties. Death Mask might be even worse, sporting a sickly-green big-bushed hermaphrodite sewing a death mask (get it?) onto his/her own face. The image has already stirred some controversy (see this and this). For my money, I feel the artwork has about as much artistic depth of content as Lady Gaga getting covered in vomit. As a PR move, however, it’s adept, since Death Mask is such an inaccessible album that it requires some sort of outside hook to get listeners interested.
I have no idea what they’re putting in the waters of Lake Michigan, but it seems like this year has marked release after release of well and truly unsettling music, including Catharsis Absolute by Avichi (a solo project by Markuszewski), and From All Purity by Indian. Death Mask might be the best record of the bunch—it’s the one I’ve revisited most, at least, and it probably has the most hooks. But make no mistake, this is a difficult album to listen to. Almost the whole of the record comes coated in distortion and noise—industrial effects pepper the background, while several digital filters mask the blackened shriek vocals that populate Death Mask. Continue reading »