Friday, January 6, 2017

review: Mangog

Mangog Awakens
release date: January 9th, 2017
label: Argonauta Records
Having seen some gig videos on YouTube of the band and knowing a bit about some of the members’ former bands, I have been keeping my eye on Mangog (Maryland, U.S.) because I wanted to hear what they would cook up on an album. This is a new band, but the music is classic doom for which the members’ previous groups are known. Mangog is the child of longtime Revelation bassist Bert Hall, Jr., who came up with the idea of restoring doom to the throne. His former, long-running band Revelation entered its name in the pages of the book of doom a long time ago. As the years went by, Revelation explored a variety of sounds and genres. Apparently, at some point Revelation and Against Nature, another band with all the members of Revelation, came to a standstill, but Bert hadn’t had enough. He wasn’t ready to get out the game. I had read that, not only had Bert kept making music, but that Mangog was meant to be 100%, true blue classic doom. “Ok, I’m in,” I thought.
The Mangog membership consists of the aforementioned Bert Hall, Jr. on guitars and vocals, Mike Rix (formerly of Iron Man and others) on the drums of doom, with Myke Wells taking the main obligations on the microphone and Darby Cox taking care of the low frequency rhythms. Let’s take the cat of out the bag quickly now: the album has a booming, vibing quality, for a fully professional doom sound. The drums sound real and pounding, and you can hear the bass guitar and the drums working in the pocket to perfection, setting everything on a solid basis.
One of the basic elements of classic-style doom is the riffs. Mangog is not a band for experimental music and they do not seek to get weird on the listener. The guitar work moves along the lines of the genre, sparking some heaviness here, throwing licks all over the place, employing the call-and-response modality in a lot of places, too. You will hear doom guitar proper. As such, the sound is enriched with the history of rock and roll, and Mangog is not about pretending to be a Johnny-come-lately of doom. It’s about tradition, respect and making the songs that will move the listener in some way. There are many little things that are happening with the guitar that I could mention. In some cases, the band very briefly quotes some of the classics. It’s a split-second glimpse, a nod of respect to the glory of rock and roll, if you will. In other places, there are some really nasty doom hooks, the slam-dunk-in-your-face type of nasty riffS that they will make the doom lifers smile.
I am not familiar with vocalist Myke Wells’ previous work, so, the album is a surprise because I did not know what to expect. Watching a YouTube video is one thing, hearing a studio recording is something else. Myke sounds like he was born to do this, to do doom vocals. There is a depth, personality to the voice in the delivery that it takes this, it takes Mangog, to remind of how doom singing can be. If a singer can succeed in making the listener remember positively the various tones, then it works. These vocals and Mangog music complement each other very well. The vocals are not 100% Myke Wells because Bert Hall handles some of the vocals, including what seems to be a full song on the album, at least. Bert can do some low tones, some midrange singing and other vocal components, but again, the main vocals is Myke Wells.
Mangog is not a band that plays slow music. True, they have segments with the pace of the blues, of course, as it should be in doom, and there are moments of heaviness in a contemplative mode, but Mangog always remember that they are here to rock. In the same way that the founders of heavy rock found different moods, Mangog seeks to liven up the music by spicing it up and approaching the songs from different angles, avoiding monotonous formulas. You will hear little shades of classic rock and blues, all done in a comprehensive heavy rocking, traditional doom framework.
Supporters of classic doom should consider this album as a work of interest, in my opinion.
[review by MMB]

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