As one would expect from a group featuring former members of Iron Man and Revelation among others, Mangog’s first full-length effort is firmly secured in traditional doom metal. Influences from Trouble and Pentagram are abound as the production is clean, the vocals are rich and melodic, and the compositions are based more on writing actual hooks than tripping out. Fortunately, the Baltimore group finds plenty of ways to keep the old school style fresh.
While the riffs are tight and the rhythm section is given plenty of spots to shine, the vocals are what truly stand out here. Lead vocalist Myke Wells and guitarist/backing vocalist Bert Hall Jr.’s voices have a soulful character to them, delivering a good bulk of the lines in a mid-range somewhere between Ozzy’s nasally sneer and the theatrics of classic Candlemass. There are also plenty of moments like the beginning of “Ab Intra” where they opt for a low chilling approach, and “Of Your Deceit” shows off a huskier performance.
And even though half of the songs are executed in a slow doom pace, the songwriting still seems to go all over the place. The band wisely set the track listing so that songs of similar styles rarely follow one another, but there would still be variety even without such parameters in place. “Meld” and “Into Infamy” are shorter numbers packed with steady aggressive chugs, “Modern Day Concubine” plays like a straightforward rock song, and “Daydreams within Nightmares” shuffles through a series of hard hitting rhythms. “Into Infamy” in particular proved to be a good choice for lead single as its chorus is one of the most infectious.
Of course, the doom manages to win out in the end. While the chorus on “Time is A Prison” may be a little too basic for the amount of time that the band rides on it, the track itself is a powerful and memorable opener. “Ab Intra” and “Of Your Deceit,” both previously appearing on the band’s Daydreams Within Nightmares EP in 2015, may be the best offerings on here thanks to their particularly haunting vocals and smooth bass-driven dynamics.
Overall, Mangog Awakens is a strong debut from a group that should prove to be another valuable staple of Maryland doom. Seeing how Mr. Hall is also operating as the current bassist for Beelzefuzz, it’s clear that he and the other musicians he works with have a knack for crafting memorable hooks delivered by standout singers. This particular album offers a bit more variety but both projects are sure to keep making great things.
“Time Is A Prison”
“Of Your Deceit”
“A Tongue Full of Lies”