Wednesday, July 8, 2015

…open your eyes: MANGOG – ‘Daydreams Within Nightmares’

It’s unfortunate that Baltimore, Maryland’s influential progressive doom pioneers Revelation have gone on an indefinite hiatus, but from Revelation’s slumber arises the mighty Mangog. Initially conceived by former Revelation and Against Nature members Bert Hall Jr. and Steve Branagan, Mangog admirably continues the tradition and legacy of the Maryland doom scene. Sadly, Branagan has since departed Mangog, but he has been ably replaced by former Iron Man heavy-hitter Mike Rix. Though the band has only been together for a short while they have managed to put together the three song EP entitled ‘Daydreams Within Nightmares,’ and the results are impressive to say the least. Wisely, Mangog doesn’t try to tread the same somber path that Revelation had blazed, but instead they seek their own route through doomed landscapes populated with woes such as loss, despair, and unrest.

The EP opener “Ab Intra” is easily the standout track of the three and probably best illuminates the musical prowess of each and every one of the players. Of note is that Bert Hall Jr., with Mangog, has forgone bass duties in favor of guitar and the man conjures up some heavy riffs and coaxes out some amazing leads. Vocalist Myke Wells exhibits both range and power—the perfect complement to Mangog’s musicianship and hard rocking style. Rix and bassist Darby Cox are completely locked in sync and are the driving force behind the track. “Ab Intra” is characterized by a reeling main riff rounded out by the rhythm section and Wells’ admonitions. While much of the track is blasted out at a doom crawl the band doesn’t hesitate to display their chops by shifting gears and blasting into an up-tempo, frenzied groove. “Ab Intra’ is straight-up one of the finest doom tracks of the year.

The two remaining tunes, “Daydreams Within Nightmares” and “Of Your Deceit,” slightly pale in comparison to the EP opener, but that’s what happens when the bar is set so high from the get go. “Daydreams Within Nightmares,” the shortest track of the three at four minutes, is a straight forward, up-tempo rocker chock-full of everything that seemingly make Mangog a great act—heavy riffs, engaging basslines, and some truly standout drumming. “Of Your Deceit,” on the other hand, is the most morose track of the lot with its plodding pace and Wells’ tortured wails recalling tales of deception and loss. The bass definitely sets the mood and the pace, but Hall’s riffs add a suffocating weight.

Though Mangog is in its infancy the veteran musicians have really come together quite quickly as a cohesive whole. The band is a welcome addition to the Maryland doom scene and should appeal to fans of hard rockin’ doom. The ‘Daydreams Within Nightmares’ EP is an excellent debut and should, based on this initial effort and the experience and output of the band members, herald even greater things to come. Mangog may not necessarily scratch the itch left by the absence of Revelation and Against Nature, but they sure have risen to the occasion by releasing a solid debut with its fair-share of twists and turns.



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