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Mighty Lord Deathman
Lifeforce Tom Coles , August 13th, 2021 09:43

Mighty Lord Deathman gets hallucinatory on new album, Lifeforce, finds Tom Coles

The indomitable Mighty Lord Deathman has taken a significant left turn from the broody, tightly coiled Teeth of the Sea, ending up in more sinister territory on Lifeforce. Here, taking the electronic layers that contrasted with the acoustic instruments and making them the focal point, the gloomy atmosphere that Teeth Of The Sea do so well is ramped up a few notches, resulting in something atavistic and unsettling.

With influences ranging as wide as Arthurian legend, the short stories of Laird Barron and Jamaica’s Equiknoxx, the nature of the record means these are buried rather than explicit, with the result being something that spans a wide palette of influences to make something suggestive and deathly. Here the repeated beats and pulses work as they traditionally do, lulling the listener into a hypnotic state, but then slyly getting darker, mixing in whispered threats and odd percussive layers which change the mood gradually as they go along. Gloomy synths are effective if not completely leftfield, but the layers of veiled warnings build up in such a way to be genuinely sinister and unexpected; you can imagine the heavy metal crowd who were into Teeth of the Sea having a bit of a moment trying to unpick this one.

But there a clear sense of mischief here, and that same metal audience might be attracted to the will to transgress, challenge, and upset a potential audience, which gives this record a little spice. This sensibility is tightly curated; we could easily end up with Merzbow’s Pulse Demon at any time, and the restraint, which keeps us anchored into the initial vision, allows the Mighty Lord to introduce more elements as we go along.

And whilst it’s tempting to call this cinematic, it’s more hallucinatory. Moods smother each other and the sense of where you are in the song is unclear. Whilst this is more suggestive than explicit, elements of the record are explorative or meandering, deviating from the theme just long enough to explore a different direction before the thud of precision comes back.

Ultimately this record is unpredictable, and there’s a thrill in seeing how deep the layers go. Wilfully obscure and mercurial, Lifeforce oozes with malice; compelling and difficult in the same breath.