Everything in Metal has been done, and with the rise of online streaming services and the ability to distribute music for free via downloads etc the internet has become a haven for the weird. Often times I will find myself cycling through bands online getting lost down rabbit holes until I find Ambient Death Industrial Vaporwave or some other equally absurd genre. I find that sort of thing really fun and being a complete genre Nazi I can only enjoy it more by delving into new and exciting genre tags which often times make no sense thus resulting in my anger… I really am a nerd aren’t I?

Speaking of strange genre combinations we come today to talk about Lord Mantis, the band whom successfully mash together Sludge and Black Metal, a combo one would think to be common. Yet it isn’t that readily available and Lord Mantis stand at its helm. Formed in 2005 the band would split in 2017 after a seemingly faultless run of releases, not least 2012’s Pervertor. As of last year however the band are back with a new studio album Universal Death Church, it becomes the bands fourth full length record and is brought to us by the almighty Profound Lore Records.

Expected, yet anticipated sluggish Blackened muddy riffs open the gates of Santa Muerte. Then in come the incredible lo-fi vocals which sound as if they’ve been fed through a computer microphone. To me this is only a perk and further bolsters the incredible output from this unique and exciting band. Upping the riff and indeed drum game is God’s Animal, in full on Sludge fashion the track places the instrumentation at the very heart of the track whilst allowing the gritty vocals space to add an air of fury and aggression. The first more expansive track Qliphotic Alpha brings the same ideals to the table whilst elevating them to a more epic proportion via its length, playing again upon Sludge ethics.

Low Entropy Narcosis introduces an acoustic element to the record which is really quite fitting amid an album so full of over brimming talent. Whilst it is a sort of interlude it is warranted and bridges a good gap between the two halves of the release. Dissonance reigns and rings true in the mighty Fleshworld a chaotic melding of messy Blackened proportions that becomes so thick at points that it almost strays into the realms of raw Black Metal via illegible riffs, maniacal speed and hideous vocals, it’s possibly one of the best tracks on the record. Finally we come to Hole which Moves from melancholic Doom styled riffs into a more amplified and stadium (or unholy chapel) sound with big swooning portions of destruction and pestilent spewing vocals, a hell of a finish.

I would find it pretty hard to fault this album and I feel as if it is one that only gets better with age. The more listens the more layers one picks up on, for this is a multi-faceted outlook upon the Black Metal genre and its Sludge backing is something which makes it stand out from the crowd. Yet not content with this splicing alone Lord Mantis project some truly inspiration vocals into the mix for a package and end result that feels both empowering and individualistic. If you’ve never checked this band out before or haven’t even heard of them then I can’t think of a better place to begin than their rebirthing record Universal Death Church.

(8/10 George Caley)