Universal Death Church

Nov. 13, 2019


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Listen to Lord Mantis

Chicago blackened sludge powerhouse Lord Mantis reunites with Charlie Fell back on vocals to follow up the critically lauded Death Mask via Debemur Morti Productions. FFO: Indian, Wallowing, Sloth Herder

Full disclosure, Charlie and I have become pretty good friends over the past few years, so I may be a little biased. That said, given the level of hype, my massive love for Death Mask, and seeing these songs evolve from cell phone recordings to studio masters; my expectations have most certainly been met. True to the band's mission statement, Universal Death Church is another hemoraging orifice of blood, pus, and pure vitriol. It would probably be more appropriate to compare this release to Violator given its somewhat faster pace and overall structure, but there are still those waves of bileful sludge chords that personified instant classics like "Possession Prayer."

First and foremost, as much as I enjoyed Dylan's work with Indian and the NTW EP, I am glad to have Charlie back on vox. When it comes to spitting pure bile, few can compete with his tortured wails. Just listen to his hacking regurgitations on "Damocles Falls." All the better to hear them featured side by side on "Fleshworld." But right at the top, "Santa Muerte" sets the tone with a truly harrowing mantra of repetitious of blackened snarls. "God's Animal"  follows suit with insidious, earworm power chord progressions, pounding drums, and rumbling bass. This is a band that has been through the ringer when it comes to internal conflict, addiction, and the untimely passing of former drummer Bill Bumgardner; and all of that pain and torment comes through on Universal Death Church.

And much like Death Mask, this album knows how to vary up the pacing and mood. After another raging first half, "Qliphatic Alpha" transitions to poor sorrow with melancholic doom melodies. Charlie seems on the verge of tears belting out his lines on this one. This slower, more methodical approach continues into "Conciousnessexe" with stuttering guitars and dense atmosphere suffocating every syllable, the Cobalt-y spoken word-meets-acoustic of "Low Entropy Narcosis," and droning, brass-infused misery of "Hole." It's something I'd expect to hear while floating down the river Styx.

When asked to share the most evil, depraved sounding music to ever cross my path, Lord Mantis continues to top the list. Their unholy union of sludge and black metal is unmatched when it comes to bad mood music. If disdain and bitterness had a soundtrack, Universal Death Church would be it. I was honored to be amongst the first to hear it, and I implore you to buy a copy this instant.

Flight's Fav's: Santa Muerte, God's Animal, Qliphotic Alpha

- Review by FlightOfIcarus

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