Spawning The Nephilim
posted on 4/2009 By:
As much as I enjoy doom and sludge metal, they require a pretty serious degree of patience from the listener. If bands aren’t repeating riffs a zillion and a half times, they’re taking a whore’s age to build up to the one über-crushing moment that makes the whole song work…or they’re doing both. Either way, the slower end of the extreme metal spectrum generally demands something of a waiting game from those who hope to reap its megaton fruits. Lord Mantis make no such demands. This band shares members with black metallers Avichi and also features an ex-member of Nachtmystium, so one might think that the other bands’ tendency to indulge in soundscapes and lengthy digressions might show up here. Nope. Spawning the Nephilim’s thirty-five-minute runtime is devoted to one pursuit, and one pursuit only: caving in your skull with retardedly heavy riffs.
It’s a little hard to pin down exactly where Lord Mantis lie on the stylistic spectrum. Though they definitely draw from the post-metal, build-and-crescendo NeurIsis scene as far as guitar stylings go, these songs are lean and direct as hell. All vestiges of ebb-and-flow dynamics and psychedelic textures have been done away with; what’s left is a rock-solid core of single-minded, downtuned hatred. Nor are these songs particularly slow. Though there’s not really any vestiges of blackened speed here, Lord Mantis generally lumbers along at a violent mid-tempo pace, with occasional moments of sludgy, Unearthly Trance-style doubletime. Drummer Bill Bumgardner pushes the band’s pacing with surprisingly punchy, busy drumming; his double bass assaults lend an almost death metal sense of urgency to the heaving guitars. Thankfully—and unlike virtually all other bands in this vein, it seems—bassist Charlie Fell delivers an agonized-yet-ornery vocal performance worthy of Cavity or Eyehategod instead of the usual Aaron Turner yell. The effect here is oppressively intense and pummeling—it’s like someone took all of the heaviest parts that Kylesa, Torche and Deadbird ever wrote and strung them together end to end.
Of course, this approach isn’t without drawbacks. After being buried in tar-black sludge a certain number of times, even the hardiest listener is going to want to come up for air…of which there isn’t a lot to be had on Spawning the Nephilim. Fortunately, the band seems to have taken this into account by writing such a short record. With only seven songs averaging at about four minutes a pop (closer “Zealot” inflates the album’s runtime with minutes of static at its conclusion), this disc definitely doesn’t overstay its welcome.
An appropriately booming (but not outstanding) production rounds out this nasty little album. Hopefully Lord Mantis will prove to be more than a one-off side project, though the members’ other commitments seem like they might pose an obstacle. The world needs more sludge/doom bands who understand that brevity is the soul of wit.
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