Achieving true filth is no small feat. Oftentimes, attempts at conveying a particularly vile subjects come across as cartoonish, and getting your audience to take you seriously while eschewing the tongue-in-cheek and ironic factor requires a certain amount of tastefulness. It’s also somewhat of a prerequisite for metal acts to wield some amount of dark subject matter, so when a band comes around that is truly and utterly and absolutely filthy, you know you’re in for a treat.
Chicago’s Lord Mantis, needless to say, is one such treat. Picking up from 2012’s aptly titled Pervertor, the band continues to harness everything it takes to be genuinely vile while fully submerging anyone willing to take the plunge in pure, septic hatred with 2014’s own Death Mask. Lord Mantis didn’t just write about something gross and call it a day – they have the sonic chops to bash it into your head with the utmost conviction, as well. Screamer Charlie Fell possesses a shriek that sits comfortably on the more inhuman end of the metal vocalist spectrum. At his tamest, his hardcore punk-flavored shouts lash you mercilessly, and at his strongest point he scathes like a bat-winged fiend drenched in sulfuric acid, spewing forth pure, unhinged hatred. The instrumentation is also appropriately sinister: their brand of blackened sludge metal is a slow-burn that plays on repetition to create atmosphere, and in a Neurosis fashion, create build-ups that exacerbate tension and an encroaching sense of dread. Opener and instant standout “Body Choke” exemplifies this method perfectly, a song that climaxes to what amounts to be the best thirteen-second stretch on the song, a miniature conflagration of sorts that scourges violently while the listener can feel themselves plummeting south at a rate that peels the skin off of their face, right before reverting to a mutated state of the plodding riffs that made it the effective burst of energy that it is. These more blistering moments are utilized much more thoroughly on “Negative Birth” which, instead of reverting to a plodding pace, blast onward in triumphant black metal fashion for the remainder of the song, the kind of reward you really feel like you have earned when giving Death Mask the full-on listen it so rightfully deserves.