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Albums That Will #[email protected]&%*! Your Face Off in 2014: Lord Mantis, The Death Mask

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ATWFYFO 2014 Lord Mantis

Lord Mantis
The Death Mask (Profound Lore)
Songs: “Body Choke,” “Death Mask,” “Possession Prayers,” “Negative Birth,” “Coil,” “My Three Crosses”
Release: April 15 (projected)

There’s no shortage of deathly art in metal, those narratives of our fast path to destruction. But Pervertor, the harrowing 2012 album by Chicago’s Lord Mantis, doesn’t foretell doom; it seems to damn its subjects to suffering without end. It wraps listeners snugly in plastic and sends them down a sewer, a journey surpassed in horror only by its destination: a brown ocean of filth where we bob and twist, vomiting and gasping, but prevented from drowning. Up becomes down, blackness separates into shades. There’s nothing to fear, Pervertor says, for pain and misery have arrived and will never loosen their grip. Fear implies a future. Death would be a relief. Pervertor gives you neither.

So what could come next for its creators in Lord Mantis? As noted by Invisible Oranges, the instant classic Pervertor presents a limit on LM’s future: “There’s only so far one can descend into darkness before it becomes passé or cartoonish and self-parodic.” Still, bassist-vocalist Charlie Fell boldly states that their upcoming third album The Death Mask will “definitely be darker.” But don’t chalk that up to iffy desires for ultimate grimness; it’s the result of skill and experience. Fell explains in an email to MetalSucks: “I had nearly zero idea of how to put my misery into words when we did Pervertor. When I listen back, a lot of the riffs kinda sound like party rock, like ‘Pervertor Of The Will’ or ‘Vile Divinity.’ We got rid of most those headbang riffs and have honed it down to a solid crush.” Expect no reprieve in the messages in The Death Mask, their first for indie powerhouse Profound Lore records, either. Fell: “I really was able to connect with what I was writing for lyrics; this time I had a lot more ammo. A bunch of health issues and personal bullshit [had] taken my quality of life to zero. You can definitely hear it.”

But it seems Fell and crew, like listeners, don’t achieve catharsis; membership in Lord Mantis doesn’t teem with privileges, says Fell: “Well, it’s always been a frustrating band to be in; there’s a lot of in-fighting, nobody in the band is really friends, and we’re definitely not that band that gets invited to a bunch of cool shit.” Feeding LM’s vibe of purgatorial woe even more is their association with another troubled Chicago band. “I think [our] Nachtmystium connection has really fucked us on a lot of levels. Doing this album was a sickeningly negative experience and we got it done by all means and manipulation — though it was pretty close to not happening at all… I have ruined my life doing this shit.” Probably ours, too.

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