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Analysis: The Lord Mantis-Indian Switcheroo

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Lord Mantis 2015 j

A week ago, it was reported that Chicago scum-sludge quartet Indian had broken up — at least according to a Fb post by the organizers of Psycho California Fest. Since then, we had been waiting for an official announcement; then it arrived sometime on Thursday. But weirdly, that announcement’s author was Andrew Markuszewski, guitarist of Lord Mantis, and it reveals that the two bands have executed a so-called “Whoa Trade.”

Remember that in Indian’s message to PCF, their break-up was explained with the words “Indian can no longer be a band”? We now might take that to have meant “two of our members are about to be busy with a bigger band that just parted with their frontman, but nobody knows that yet.” Anyway, let’s decode this statement by Markuszewski:

  • Bassist-vocalist Charlie Fell, the face of Lord Mantis, is out. His replacements are two members of Indian, Will Lindsay (bass, aka the guy who hates Ghost and/or Deafheaven) and Dylan O’Toole (vocals). Fell did all the talking for their awesome 2014 album, Death Mask, including this weirdness.
  • Also not in LM anymore is the guitarist that joined in 2013, Ken Sorceron (ex-Abigail Williams). Now Scott Shellhamer of American Heritage is second guitarist. That dude is cool, but this particular change is stressful to me cuz I’m certain he thinks I’m a retard.
  • Markuszewski states that he’d been told by O’Toole — also a contributor to Death Mask — of the latter’s desire to put down the guitar to dedicate himself to vocals. Hardly a helpful detail (ie. That’s reason to end a band and join another?), it seems like gold cuz that’s it for clear details of the shake-up. Did Fell bail? Was he dismissed? Why Shellhamer? Was it on tour with Today Is The Day when shit went bad? Then LM was looking for dudes, and the Indian guys made their move? And they couldn’t make that work with the other Indian guys?
  • No precise answers to those questions. But Markuszewski pauses to toss off a few thoughts on the nature of “the media” and on misconceptions of who runs LM, stuff that usually reads like Chapter One of the book titled Shit Guys Say When “The Media” Struggles To Interpret Their Ambiguous, Semi-Literate Messages. But from Markuszewski it’s a chess move, a thought to keep you busy as he hot-foots past the past and presents the future. In other words, he’s like, “Don’t worry about details. Lord Mantis is better than ever.” Possible? We’ll see!
  • Also impressive about Markuszewski’s statement is its author’s discipline: He hardly mentions Charlie Fell. No best wishes, no info on Fell’s pending projects, only a dab of credit for time served. That can suggest that Markuszewski isn’t angry at his former bandmate, rather that he hates his fetid guts. Like, just blacks him out of LM. Redacts him. Of course, it goes unaddressed by M’ski, so we customers are left to interpret and conjecture. Oooh it’s a conspiracy!
  • I’m dazzled by Markuszewski’s timing: I didn’t even register my own shock and upset til Saturday — 48 hours later! Info was doled out in bits; the reaction to each was small. That is, Indian quietly pulled out of a few dates and hinted at disbandment, a few days later Lord Mantis announces the departures and a merger. Wow! That info’s delivery in that order hints at careful message management. Its effect is that the end of Indian doesn’t seem so bad cuz half of Indian lives on in Lord Mantis, a hotter band; meanwhile, the departure of LM’s loudest voice seems as natural as the changing of a traffic signal. “Whoops, Charlie’s gone. Cough. Lord Mantis in studio this May!”

For fans of Death Mask — to me, it’s 2014’s best metal record — it’s a big change that arrives in the wake of a major achievement. So consternation is due. Yet O’Toole’s jam on Death Mask is awesome, so that EP could be too. And if LM chemistry improves, so could their confidence. Or not. Please stand by.

The new Lord Mantis heads into the studio for an EP in May. Get Death Mask here and here.

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