Album Review: Lord Mantis – “Nice Teeth Whore” (EP)

lord mantis ntw ep

Lord Mantis has had a relatively short but tumultuous history. Controversial lyrics, themes, and artwork are synonymous with the Chicago natives that have shared and traded members with the likes of Nachtmystium and the now defunct Indian. With a new line-up filled out by ex-Indian member, Lord Mantis is back with the short but chimeric Nice Teeth Whore EP to remind us all that their brand of repulsive blackened sludge makes them gods of American underground extreme music.

I saw a significant amount of chatter on the interwebs in which fans descried Lord Mantis’ efforts to continue as a band after splitting with vocalist/bassist Charlie Fell (Abigail Williams, Cobalt). I was surprised to see the naysaying continue after it was announced that the ex-Indian members, Will Lindsay (bass) and Dylan O’Toole (vocals) were taking over for Charlie. If you don’t know Indian, check them out. Their last two records before their split (Guiltless and From All Purity) were absolutely fantastic noisy, experimental sludge of the highest caliber. Additionally, some of Lord Mantis’ arguably best tracks featured Dylan entirely on vocals for both Pervertor and Death Mask. Charlie’s abilities as a vocalist are evidenced not only with his work in Lord Mantis, but also in the newest Abigail Williams and Cobalt records; however, Charlie was only one of the three vocalists on those last two records. With NTW, we still get two of the iconic vocalists of Lord Mantis with vocals from guitarist, Andrew, and Dylan himself.

One of the major differences in NTW as opposed to their other material is the bass. The bass has been brought closer to the front of the mix, allowing you to hear the mesmerizing bass lines weaving in and out of the guitar both in rhythm and in melody. The tone of the bass shines through as much as the bass lines themselves. However, I feel that in allowing the bass more room to breathe, the rest of the instrumentation suffers slightly. The guitar seems quieter and more washed out than prior releases, but the real tragedy is the vocals. Dylan and Andrew’s vocals are often a little buried in the mix compared to prior releases. I don’t know if this was intentional, but the mix and production of the album did not grab me as much as Pervertor or Death Mask. After the first several listens of the EP, I honestly barely notice as this EP contains everything else I would want to hear from Lord Mantis.

NTW is kicked off with the frantic opener, “SIG Safer”. The speed remains constant through the entire track with horrifying sludgey blackened riffs that grind through your skull while Dylan repeatedly screams “SAFER! SAFER! SAFER! SAFER!” over and over as if he was mindlessly protesting the unsettling guitar and manic pummeling drums. The entire song feels like death is chasing the listener and growing ever closer. The first time I heard this song, I tried to circle pit while driving my car in traffic. It didn’t work.

Title track “Nice Teeth Whore” sets the tone with a slow, building rumble that continues through the first half of the song. Vile sludge riffs overtop the thundering drums give way to tremolo leads that would make Euronymous proud. The guitars burst through their structured repetition and break away into doomy fuzz and feedback and the allow the song to slow and mutate into an even more hateful beast for the last half of the song. Guitarist, Andrew, takes over vocal duties for the remainder of the track. Andrew’s vocals are the fire to Dylan’s ice.

“Semblences” is where Lord Mantis brings together the sum of their parts with constantly mutating, thick and fleshy riffs that pulse and throb, blast, and slowly pound away. This track offers parts that are more melodic than most of what they have done previously, but these parts are brief glimmers of hazy light in the song’s vast darkness.

Lord Mantis closes the EP with “Final Division”. This track leans farther into Indian territory while still keeping one foot into their traditional sound. This track is more minimalistic and one of the more repetitive tracks on NTW. “Final Division” starts at a crawling pace and evolves into a disgustingly driving riff that allows Lord Mantis to really showcase Dylan O’Toole’s vocals.

Lord Mantis is divisive and controversial, but this is trivial when they deliver music like this. Lord Mantis and Indian fans alike will love this EP despite its length and production quality. NTW begins a new chapter for Lord Mantis that bears the scars of the paths they have traveled, and redirects to the promise of where they will go next.

– Josh Thieler


Nice Teeth Whore is out now on New Destiny. For more information on Lord Mantis, visit the band’s official Facebook page.


 

3 thoughts on “Album Review: Lord Mantis – “Nice Teeth Whore” (EP)

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