Lord Mantis – Death Mask

Crossing over into new territory, that’s the way it should be, that’s how you make something new.  That’s how you make something striking to get the attention of people who have heard it all.  Some of the best bands we’ve covered over the past few years have crossed so many boundaries there simply isn’t a way to refer to them without pulling out so many genres you become worse than a tag list on an Illuminati video.  That, or they confront the hell out of you, which comes with its own problems.  So, when we come across such a band, it’s best to refer to them qua band.  Why name something few can grasp?  Just let it be what it is, and this is Lord Mantis.  These guys have only been playing out of Chicago for a short time, though they’ve had their hands around the metal community including acts like Abigail Williams, but with only three full-lengths under their belt they’ve been making enough waves to have everything including a review that led to a flame war about transvestism and an interview with, ugh, Noisey, that led to another flame war concerning transvestism.  We’d rather learn about the band as people playing music they enjoy, but unfortunately that’s been made difficult, because this album is confrontational in a number of ways.  Here, we’d rather learn about Death Mask as an album, not as a symbol of the deconstruction of modern man in the face of his Puritanical sexually deviant revolution.  That’s our own quote, by the way.  In this age of being cutting edge by using empty words for hipster head nods, we simply wanted to join in.  But it’s kind of required for an album that brings up this many issues and turns it into an issue itself because of a lack of tact by critics and “writers” (quotes required).


Death Mask, yes, we’re going to start talking about this without one bit of controversial phraseology.  Can you believe it?  In an age when even taking off one’s socks in one’s own home can lead to a lawsuit, do we dare do such a thing?  Yes.  In fact, all we’ll say for the moment about the cover is that it’s awesomely depraved and if you don’t like looking at it, you probably shouldn’t be listening to it, either.  If you’re curious, though, it was done by the guy behind Leviathan, so click away and enter the labyrinth of the internet where you can find people discussing deviant sexuality, racism, and self-harm (click bait with nothing to click on) in relationship to this album.  Back on topic, so what is ‘it’ exactly, this Death Mask?  Lord Mantis command some sickeningly corrupted riffs, but here it’s been produced to a level where chord progressions are discernible.  Not an easy task, this balancing of chaos and order, but it leaves one capable of consuming it while being consumed by it, instead of one or the other.   In addition, the tracks presented here incorporate elements of harsh noise, churning, damaging riff runs, and awesome vocal delivery, which is one of the key features that makes Lord Mantis what they are.  The lyrics are delivered with a rasping, demonic tone the best of black metal vocalists can’t even touch, and you can tell there’s a ton of hate behind it, probably hatred of the self.


Let’s get to that.  In terms of sound alone, Death Mask destroys.  There are a ton of interesting features to be found like quick shifts in style and experimentation that should make older metal fans smile from the scent of freshness.  The artwork?  Yeah, people have apparently found something offensive in it, but really that’s more of a placing upon the art your interpretation.  In fact the band already explained it was a personal image, not directed at anyone else. Also, if you look at the back of it, the whole argument about being against any type of person is completely out the window. Trust us, there have been worse covers and bands trying to shock people.  Shock has come and gone, to do it anymore you either become something almost comical and despised, or you’re just yourself and kind of an asshole, but you can be an honest asshole, and that’s what we have here.  For someone who claims to have seen the horrors of life, the drugs, sex, health problems, hatred, who’s truly lived it and understood it, something like this can be the most fulfilling of methods for release for them (read that revealing interview in the last link).  The question of whether or not it’s genuine is truly only understood by them, and for that we can only accept what they are at face value.  Some of the lyrics are extremely confrontational, and definitely not for the masses, but has it ever been about that?  It’s underground metal for Christ’s sake, if you don’t know that coming in, go back to Shinedown or something.  Death Mask confrontational?  Certainly, but it’s either you reading too much into it or them simply being who they are, and it’s up to you to choose whether or not you want in.  The imagery is one thing, the music another, and the real problem here is it was spread around by sites and people who probably shouldn’t have been listening to it in the first place.


Lord Mantis Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Lord Mantis – Death Mask
Profound Lore Records
4.5 / 5