Author: Gay For Gary Oldman
Artist: Lord Mantis
Album: NTW EP (2016)
Genre: Black/Sludge Metal
Label: New Density
After dominating so many end of year lists with Death Mask in 2014, one of the last remaining titans of blackened sludge Lord Mantis return with a phenomenal EP, after kinsmen Indian and Coffinworm head to the blacker pastures of the defunct-band realm in the sky. In case you don’t recall the cover art of Death Mask, you should revisit it before learning that this EP is named for the track Nice Teeth Whore. And yes, yes. That is a fucking uterus on the album cover, in all its fallopian fortitude, with the umbilical swarm and all.
Everything you love about Lord Mantis is back, and I haven’t heard such a vile, stinking slab of pus-covered sludge like the title track since I reviewed the Dragged Into Sunlight collaboration with Gnaw Their Tongues a while back. It took two musical projects to combine to give form to that wall of virulent obscenity; the Mantis does it single handedly; the other hand presumably elbow-deep in a nearby corpse. The title track exemplifies everything blackening in sludge, offering up a sick and mocking parody of Eyehategod around the halfway mark, crooked rotting teeth grinning, “sludge like this, yes?” I can’t make out all of the lyrics, but when Dylan hisses “hands around my neck”, it feels very literal.
The EP opens, however, with the sludge a bit subdued, due in part to the speed and frenzy of the track. However, it doesn’t entirely settle simply as ‘black’ in its metal, as Coffinworm were prone to do at speed. Instead, the band fish out the sinew and cartilage of hardcore punk buried in the form of all sludge, and parade around their black metal stylings wearing these elements at the forefront. It works, and devoting a single track to it does no harm, but it just becomes all the sweeter when the speed drops and the riffs take on the deeper, sludgy sound
Semblances offers something not quite familiar to fans, especially in the intro and verses. The template could almost be likened to post-punk, almost like they looked at Joy Division and The Cure and said “yeah, we could make that kind of thing vile. Have at it!” It lacks none of the vitriol and venom customary in their arsenal, but the base template was almost unsettling in how easily the band has perverted such a charming piece of genre. More than anything I am simply impressed by its defiance of my expectations.
I offer no exaggeration when I tell you that the bass rumblings on closer Final Division were felt right up in my throat, offering my own personal throwback to Body Choke. I would argue that this, the strongest track on this small EP, is also probably the best example of blackened sludge I have ever heard. It tops my previous darlings in Indian, and even smashing open to the broader atmospheric realms held by Nux Vomica, as the track expands into open, melodic realms towards the end. Euphoria is a comical hyperbole overused by fanboys in just about every genre, but there have been few moments that I have felt this elated by music. Kauan have caused this feeling in me, but never has such a brutal, ugly band stirred such excitement in me.
EPs are easy to get right, without needing to balance the pacing and diversity for a full length. But they also often fail to fill truly full. This EP does, even at only 25 minutes. If you don’t check out this release, in my opinion superior even to their full-length, you will only be doing yourself a disservice.
- Gay for Gary Oldman
Check them out here: https://lordmantis.bandcamp.com/