Imagine the most horrific/traumatic thing that has occurred in your life. Now, imagine that event in audio form and stretched out over the course of 7 tracks that clock in at 48 minutes. This is a perfect representation of the new Lord Mantis record, Death Mask. This is a journey that you have to be fully willing to embark on, as it is not for the faint of heart or the weak willed. It is a grueling slog that will make you question your existence and whether or not you should end it immediately. It will lead you down narrow hallways filled with corpses, vast caverns that light could not survive in, and mud thickened by the blood of weary travelers who just couldn’t live any longer or walk any further. Believe it or not, this is all meant positively.
‘Body Choke’ begins your descent into madness. Claustrophobia sets in, due to the thickness of the guitar tone, and the drums come in to fill what little space is left, squeezing the listener and making them gasp for air. Only after that, do the vocals make themselves known. They start as repeating screams, and these induce fear and paranoia due to their tortured nature. It only gets more and more haunting as you go on. You’re trudging through muck one minute, and running away from things that may or may not be there the next. This record is more than content punishing you over the course of multiple tracks with no respite. The journey continues and you descend deeper.
Your first moment of twisted beauty comes in the form of ‘You Will Gag for the Fix.” A haunting piano piece that offers at least a short break from the punishing vice grip that the previous steps of the journey have had you in. It’s as if you’ve just finished running for your life, and you come across a circle of dead roses. The first sight of anything that could be called peaceful, and it already died long before you came here. Still, it is something different, and this melodic piano with a dark, sinister air behind it captures that moment in the journey flawlessly. Then, you are drawn right back into the fear and madness that the land has to offer. Once again continuing through the unspeakable horrors the album puts forth. ‘Coil’ is one of the last parts of the journey, and easily one of the densest tracks. It also includes a cold robotic voice that makes this album feel even more indifferent to your suffering.
Then, you reach the end. The closing song ‘Three Crosses’ brings both beauty and destruction. You’ve finally reached your destination, only to find that what you were looking for isn’t there. The only thing you have to show for making it this far are your beating heart, and the many rough callouses on your feet. The melodic sections in this song almost serve as sighs; apologies for making you take this journey, and the effects it has had on you. These apologies are taken back, however, when the last half of the song finally swallows you whole with its relentless fury, showing you that you came here to die. That’s okay, though, because it was a death that you earned.
This record is an unparalleled nihilistic masterpiece that few will truly enjoy, but many should experience. It is a journey that you have to choose to take, and though it is a terrifying one, it is a complete and uncompromising piece of art that pushes the listener past their limits.
Lord Mantis – Death Mask gets…