So, to recap: evil Chicago entity Lord Mantis spawns from three-quarters of Blackened Sludge quartet Indian. In 2014 the band split spectacularly with troubled yet horrifically effective vocalist Charlie Fell: upon which the parent band folds and becomes the new incarnation of the progeny, Indian vocalist Dylan O’Toole assuming the role of the heinous rasp. Moreover, since the recording of new EP Nice Teeth Whore (New Density), guitarist Scott Shellhamer and bassist Will Lindsay have also departed, with Alletta Ergun moving in.
Got all that? The debris from the Fell departure has finally settled and it’s now time to see if the Mantis can silence those who doubt the credibility of the band without him. Initially Nice Teeth Whore seems something of a return to the excellent days of sophomore album Pervertor (Candlelight Records): the slurring, quickened Black boom of ‘SIG Safer’ swelling to a final crescendo and highlighting O’Toole’s hostile bark, spearing the mind yet missing that sense of ‘serial killer’ depravity Fell exudes so effortlessly.
The title track runs at a more familiar and ominous, Doom-laden pace: the sheer violent malevolence of O’Toole’s delivery complementing Bill Bumgardner’s colossal drums; the switch between rumbling riffs, shimmering Blackened passages and some wonderfully emotive yet spiked leadwork utterly compelling. It’s this reined-in brutality, desperately attempting to break free yet unable to escape from the choke-hold, that is the essence of both bands and leaves the listener fraught, nerve-shredded and exhausted in a blissful fashion
Bumgardner’s drums are again to the fore in ‘Semblances’, pummeling their way through a savage, sawing chorus from which screams resonate and slice the skin. It’s the languid, funereal hostility of ‘Final Division’, however, where the heady days of this terrifying outfit truly return: vocals so oppressive as to clog up the throat; a hateful, slow-burning intensity crawling lazily through the gut, leaving hungry leeches in its wake.
The warm, beefy production and undercurrents of howling leads may steal a little menace, but make no mistake: Lord Mantis are back to their punishing best. Let’s now hope that some stability can allow this febrile ferocity to fester…
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