Mangog from Baltimore, MD has been on my radar for quite some time now. Have been fortunate to see them crush it on stage a few times, so I was ecstatic when their debut EP, 'Daydreams Within Nightmares' came out in 2015. And now it's here, the first full-length 'Awakens' and I'm even more ecstatic. I mean, how couldn't I be? The momentum Mangog created with 'Daydreams Within Nightmares' has been worked into 'Awakens' perfectly. The excellent blend of Maryland doom and metal the band favors is not only well-played and brilliantly executed, it is also done with so much laissez-faire and chutzpah. Making the end result...well, amazing, truly amazing.
Having a wealth of talent and experience within their ranks, Mangog displays ‘Awakens’ in the best possible way. The music flows with such ease regardless the tempos employed and the lyrics are masterfully crafted and enhanced with the music. Think original Maryland doom with focus on internal struggles, self-deceit, mistreatment and disparagement and all chapters of ‘Awakens’ dark tales are covered. However, if I am not completely off the mark, Mangog are offering a way out of the misery. What I mean is if you put all the songs together and what they say against the title, the band offers light at the end of the tunnel. It’s as if the songs are steps to guide you on the way to resolve. The album helps you to see what ails you, to open up your eyes and see what is going on and work your way out of it.
To make the lyrics hit home, the band moves seamlessly between tempos. By moving back and forth like this really lifts up the different emotions Mangog aims for. There are compositions which are slow, dark and sinister like ‘Time Is A Prison’, ‘Of Your Deceit’ and ‘A Tongue Full Of Lies’. Others are faster heavy doom rockers like ‘Meld’, ‘Into Infamy’, ‘Daydreams Within Nightmares’ and ‘Modern Day Concubine’. ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ is Sabbath-y in approach musically while ‘Ab Intra’ is a massive soul searching odyssey, not for the faint-hearted.
Something else which the band use to great aplomb is the sharing of the vocals between Myke Wells and Bert Hall. Myke is the lead vocalist and the way he belts out the gut wrenching lyrics makes you feel you’re in the gutter, that he is singing what you feel. Guitarist Bert steps in on occasion and handles some lead vocals and spoken-singing parts – in lack of better words – and this dual action makes the songs stand out even more. ‘Ab Intra’ is the best example of this where Bert starts off and when Myke takes over, the music kicks in harder making the song explode. Fantastic!
Mangog who are apart from Myke and Bert, Darby Cox, bass guitar, and Mike Rix, drums, are on to something truly amazing. In a day and age where we are flooded with music you have to really stand out to even get any kind of attention. Mangog surpasses this elegantly simply by writing and recording fantastic music. Might sound superfluous to say that but they know what they are doing and they know how to get their ideas and visions across. And when you have this talent the music is free-flowing, uninhibited and in-yer-face all at the same time. And personally, I can’t ask for more. Thank you, Mangog!