There’s already a clear narrative for the year in metal, and we’re only three months in. This came up once already when we wrote about the band Indian in January’s Black Market (coincidentally, that band’s singer, Dylan O’Toole, offers lead vocals on this track) and again when we covered the amazing new Thou album last week, but it bears repeating: Hideous sludge is the style to beat in 2014. Brilliant examples appear each month: the aforementioned Indian and Thou, Coffinworm, and even the progenitors of the style, Eyehategod, have a new one coming out. All of them continue to shift our focus away from technicality, and back toward rudimentary riffs and webs of feedback. The latest, and possibly greatest, of 2014’s sludge monstrosities comes by way of Chicago’s Lord Mantis. Blackened, urban, hellish, seedy and a few dozen other adjectives come to mind immediately upon hearing their latest single, “Negative Birth,” whose title makes things even darker when you realize it’s absolutely meant to be sexual in nature. That’s really the key here: There IS sex in their violence, and it plays out in both the antagonistic lyrics and in the pounding thrust of the rhythm section. Some styles of metal inherently fear the body — death metal, for example, is all jagged and churning, deliberately undanceable and entirely unsexy — whereas Lord Mantis are all lascivious, libidinous filth, meant to make us move to the music and feel disgusting doing it. Carnal instinct lies beneath the graphic violence — like a tryst gone wrong in a slaughterhouse bathroom, the record revels in the kind of imagery that’s designed to make you tingle in all the wrong ways. Try as you might, it’s hard to look away. Listen.
Lord Mantis’ new album, Death Mask, is out 4/29 via Profound Lore.