Released: 2014, Profound Lore Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Chicago's Lord Mantis are sick bastards in every sense of the term. They revel in filth and obscenity, and wear their profound ugliness as a badge of honor. And they lay it right out there from the get-go.
The cover of their last album, Pervertor, took sacrilege to new heights with its Lovecraftian crucifixion rape scene illustration making Slayer's Christ Illusion look like an issue of "Boy's Life" magazine. For their third and latest, there's a garishly painted nude she-male Golem of sorts with giant tits, an equally prodigious wang and oozing dead skin mask sewn in place. Good luck getting that one into Walmart.
Their slash-and-sludge, industrial-tinged black metal cacophony is just as horrific. “Sounds like your face hitting broken glass,” the band's Facebook page declares. That's being kind.
Death Mask plays out like the soundtrack to a bad acid trip at a Manson Family orgy. The mood is one of deviance, danger and cruelty. Everyone is complicit and no one will escape unscarred. It's crassness and nihilism are total, and its regrets are none as these guys surely could give fuck all about anything – all which is what makes Death Mask so heinously brilliant.
With Abigail Williams mainman Ken Sorceron joining the fray this time around, Death Mask offers a broad-based and forboding sonic assault that runs the gamut from the epic thundering doom of album closer “Three Crosses,” which concludes in a cascade of black metal histrionics, and the full-on roar of “Negative Birth” to the electronic thrum and tribal pummel of “Possession Prayer” and robotic drone of “Coil,” which recall Godflesh or Land of Rape and Honey-era Ministry. “Body Choke” and the title track, which open the album, play fast and loose with all of these ingredients, and get things off to a brutal start.
Death Mask's heaviosity should not be underestimated. It's as dense and all-consuming as it is grotesque - and that's really saying something - and surely one of the most punishing efforts you're likely to hear all year. Magnificent in its malevolence, this album is everything everyone says you should be afraid of in metal - and then some.