Label: Profound Lore Records
Release: November 22nd, 2019
I had initially found out about Lord Mantis when I was looking for other bands with Aamonael of Avichi, and for some reason I thought of them being his side project. It turns out he joined a bit later and only during the time of their previous release NTW, I realized. Lord Mantis have a bunch of known American musicians, like Ken Sorceron of Abigail Williams and latest Cobalt singer, Charlie Fell. The previous Indian drummer (R.I.P.) also played here at some point.
The band's distasteful nature always appealed to me, but to an extent of just enjoying this brand of blackened sludge and not more than that. All their material from this decade are top-notch, and guarantee an uncomfortable listen to people who are willing to step outside of their comfort zone when it comes to their preferences. The newest album Universal Death Church, is more metallic in the sound of the guitars and vocals, features infectious guitar work, is well-written and as filthy as before.
Not always does an album succeed in having memorable moments in every tune, and that's what happens with the contents of Universal Death Church. The elements of sludge, black metal, Lord Mantis-like grooves, distorted ambiance, all co-exist as if it's 2012 and we're back to Pervertor, but this time more monstrous. And if you get into it, hold tight for the first two tracks "Santa Fuerte" and "God's Animal", which might seem more simplistic than you would like, in case you are unaware of the band. The compositions get much more interesting by the third track "Qliphotic Alpha".
But even these aforementioned two, have the successful nuances that don't turn them into filler tracks. The vocals in Lord Mantis always reminded me of a faster version of Indian, and maybe this is even more apparent in Universal Death Church. The ups and downs the record takes with its tracks never drop it too low, yet the monumental tracks that are "Damocles Falls" and "Fleshworld", especially the closing "Hole", can never be in the same league as "Consciousness.exe" for example, which is just a solid piece.
That's the reason why Universal Death Church closes with its three most powerful compositions, not to mention the brilliant guest work on the saxophone by Bruce Lamont on the last track, something that can be picked up right away by ear. "Fleshworld" has some lines moving more into traditional black metal and what it achieves is wondrous and terrifying. I couldn't see their previous albums as a whole, but this, with all its small missteps, walks perfectly fine as a potent unit.
Lord Mantis have not changed a lot since they started and there is no need, especially when they have mastered their sound that good. There is nothing else one would ask from this project and Universal Death Church is definitely for the attention of all the fans. I will be listening to half the tracks from the album again and again for the near future, or maybe the whole of it just for the feels it provokes. Exceptionally good work from a talented band that hadn't done it until now, for me.