Friday, May 02, 2014

Lord Mantis: Death Mask (2014)

Oh, That Cover

Metallattorney reviews the subject of a manufactured controversy.

Lord Mantis have never been exactly politically correct. That has been the point. They had a very vile cover on their last album and this one is possibly even worse. The album itself, and most certainly the cover, has been called "transmisogynistic", which is a word I think was just made up for this album cover. It certainly sounds like a thing, but probably not one which gets bandied about very often because it has an extremely limited scope. Essentially hatred of trans-women. Okay, sure. I am not sure Lord Mantis is really making a statement here other than just to piss people off or disgust them. I definitely do not believe there is anything really political here, but I could be wrong. Maybe I just listen to music just to listen to it. I do not go out of my way trying to find any messages in art really. I just enjoy it for what it is.

I recently reviewed an album by a band called Drug Honkey, and I thought that was an extremely hateful and vile sound. Lord Mantis is similar in that they play the same type of sludgy, doom metal, but they are quite a bit more conventional in their sound. This is much more obviously metal, with a focal point on the riffs rather than the vocal effects. It is not pretty, not by any means. The music is suffocating and pummelling. It is extremely harsh and violent. But the band does actually get locked into a groove at times, so while it is certainly unforgiving and malevolent, it is surprisingly infectious. Which means it is listenable and has that replay factor. That comes into play particularly toward the end of "Death Mask" and "Negative Birth".

The only real respite from the spiteful sound is the track "Coil" which sticks out quite a bit for its much more laidback groove and Cynic-like mechanical vocal effects. It is a welcome change of pace and makes the final track that much more effective.

This is unfortunately an album that could get a lot more attention for the odd choice of artwork than for its musical merits. That would be a shame, because this is actually a very well-crafted sludge metal album. The type of sludge metal that the genre was originally known for, think Acid Bath, Eyehategod, and the ilk rather than the much cleaner, radio-friendly stylings of the earlier works of Mastodon, Baroness, and any other band with a John Baizley cover. This is quite likely a Top Ten album for me. It really is that good.

I give this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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