Red Mantis – “Red Mantis”
Red Mantis is like this evil looking bug that attacks you while you’re taking a shower. It’s like a scorpion. No, it’s like a scorpion with wings! And it’s barreling down on you while you can barely see through the soap and the lather and the hair conditioner.
And it’s zeroing in on you, man! That much you know is true.
Whether it’s a hallucination or just reality having a bad day or just your contacts are in backwards or maybe your eyeballs- You take a swing at it! At full force! A final trust at self-preservation, but then you realize…
This insect isn’t here to kill you. And it’s not a scorpion, at all! It’s a praying mantis, a bloody red praying mantis.
And it’s got a grip on your eardrums with a solid hold but not to harm you, only to kill you sonically, wipe away all your preconceptions of what is metal, what is punk, what is hardcore?
Then envelope you in its cocoon of fire breathing aggression, unrelenting fury and mighty piles of guts, ripe with power, shooting up from your bunghole towards the nether regions that lie above, proclaiming- This is real! This is awesome! This is what you want, when all you “gots” is gutless wimps paragliding in pastures, pontificating on the peaceful parables of Don McLean.
When what you want is a semi-trailer eight wheel truck full of velocity and venom, on a snowy night, pointed at your cranium on a slippery, down slope slide, losing control and crashing straight into your skull at full speed, right before your very, backwards eyes-
And that, my friends, is my honest description of Red Mantis first release. Let’s give a listen-
“El Cobarde” soon erupts as a double time hardcore number with a high-end death/hardcore vocal riding an adrenalin rush. There’s a guitar interlude that suggest’s a shady club with a double espresso mariachi surf band stuck in a Quentin Tarrentino snuff film. While the vocals suggest’s a man singing with his face on fire. I guess the Spanish translation for this song is “The Coward” but there’s nothing meek or timid or false about this ferocious, fang-bearing, fun song.
With a guitar riff ricocheting like a fly caught in an enclosed place, “Hang Me Out To Dry,” detonates with hardcore vocals answered by a severe, clanging bass. The chorus is echoed by some sharp background vocals in a song that recalls everybody from Iggy & The Stooges to Ministry to White Zombie. An almost, rockabilly/country beat lays hidden under the vicious assault of volume and aggression. Towards the end, a descending chord progression leads us to a face melting breakdown, that offers small respite from a song that delivers a spike of pure passion and power directly into your bloodstream. My favorite song on this EP.
A propulsive, trebly bass lick leads, “No One From Nowhere,” into a hardcore firestorm where the band moves together as one monolithic, marauding machine. “Where are we going?” the song asks then spirals towards the heavens in a trilling guitar lead. Then this song crashes into hell like a hot rod on fire accelerating down a blackened highway. Everyone from everywhere should like a song so powerful and potent as this.
After a mild guitar intro, “At Tomorrow’s End” ignites with passionate vocals and a stomping rhythm section. This is a rockin’ tune full of venomous, emotional singing. This is the most kick ass song on the EP, kind of like a Motorhead song with a higher range vocal or Lemmy getting a wedgie. The rhythm section pulls up the speed on the chorus but not on the intensity and just careens into a wall of sound and the end of a great recording.
So unlike my earlier, aerosol can spray huffing induced hallucinations, in the beginning of this review- I would like to say that Red Mantis is a band that takes the best parts of punk, metal and hardcore, puts it in a blender, pours it into a tall glass (or, aerosol can spray if you prefer, like myself) and drinks it until it kicks in with a wallop. And then they put a tiny, plastic umbrella in it and buy the bar a round.
Their music is, I believe, another example of the metal gang grabbing the hardcore away from punk, but unlike the many new grindcore, power violence bands around- these cats stake out new grounds, forging a style that is already, in their new days, unique to them. One that encompasses all the influences that the bands we write about have, but they take interesting twists and turns and then run off to the hills with no forwarding address, but hopefully, to be heard from again.
This is pulverizing noise causing blissful destruction, this is guts and power and truth set aflame with the desire and intensity of the feeling and belief behind it, and it should set your dreams and beliefs on fire, as long as you’re still a breathing, thinking, desirous individual.
I pray that Red Mantis continues to devour our eardrums with every megahertz of their potent sound.
Oh, and it’s great for listening in the shower, too.