Lord Mantis - Spawning the Nephilim (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Lord Mantis

Spawning the Nephilim (2009)

Seventh Rule

Chicago's metal scene is hard to describe to outsiders. Most bands take cues from a wide range of bands across the spectrum, hitting somewhere between hardcore, post-hardcore, thrash, death and doom. Metal bands usually come through the independent punk and hardcore scene, sharing labels and marquees with bands who might not worship at the altar of Black Sabbath as much as they do.

It's fitting, then, that Chicago's Lord Mantis would find themselves toeing the line between black metal and crust. The record is a fearsome vortex of drop-tuned guitars pounding through crushing riffs, punctuated by fluid drum smashing and terrifying vocals. And yet, there's a raw edge where the album cuts into more experimentation with song structure and chord progressions while falling into looser rhythms.

The end product should be difficult and strange and hard to listen to, but Lord Mantis has their songs down to a science. Each track carries the listener through a barrage of double-bass pounding and discordant guitar shrieking to the point of breaking just before transitioning into an experimental riff or moment of melodic clarity. And from start to finish, the album is seamless. Where other bands might have trouble moving through rough territory, Lord Mantis easily strings together four bars of grind right before a straight heavy metal riff.

Born out of black metal bands Avichi and Nachtmystium, Lord Mantis' secret weapon is the drummer from Seventh Rule labelmates Indian. And while devotees might have complaints that Spawning the Nephilim isn't kvlt enough, it's the rhythmic interchanges that keep the listener's attention.

In the end, it's still a metal album. The audience is built in and cultivated; there's only so much non-metal fans are willing to take before they'll eject a CD or delete an album. But for those select few who appreciate what this album is, you're going to get a lot of mileage out of Spawning the Nephilim.