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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Album Review -Mangoo-Nevermind

As evidenced by many of the album reviews and band offerings here on heavyplanet.net, as well as the wonderful podcasts and the newly established heavyplanet radio, a predominant number of stoner, sludge, and doom metal comes from Eastern Europe and the Scandinavian countries. There is such a rich and varied amount of top quality music produced in that part of the world it would likely take several weeks, or months, to get through the vast majority of the best of it all, which is a great thing when you stop and consider it.

Forged in that climate of abounding stoner and sludge of superb quality comes Mangoo, a band hailing out of Turku, Finland, that is rising and could soon take a place near the top of the metal heap. Mangoo is staking their claim to be among the best of the bands from that hoary corner of the globe with their second full length album, “Neverland”, the first from the superb label Small Stone Records.

“Neverland” does an amazing job of both exhibiting the requisite characteristics of stoner, fuzz, and psychadelia while having created an eclectic collection of disparation, songs that differ in tone and melody by a considerable degree, one from another, making up this unique and wonderful whole, an album offering of surprising depth and quality, rich in distortion, varied in melody, slick and powerful in delivery, intelligent in the intricate craft of each song, displaying those qualities throughout the entire compilation.

After a brief intro, Mangoo jumps right into a pschedelic number of incredible quality, a piece that haunts and overwhelms in an ethereal onslaught of trippy, heart pounding music that carries you off into a netherworld where time and space are ruled by the high energy emotion of Mangoo’s vocalist, Pickles, who, with his muscular and skilled vocals takes you on a cool and astonishing journey of grinding, groovy, and intense sound along with his and bandmate Mattarn’s guitars, as well as the hard driving and insistent bass of Igor, the super cool sounds that can only be prescribed to Nikky’s keys, all modulated by the piercing, deliberate rhythms of Teemu’s drums.

The next tune, “Deathmint”, can be more closely associated with so many cool and wonderful rock standards from the 70s or from the more recent resurgence of true rock associated with the stoner rock bands and fuzz monsters of the past couple of decades. But here Mangoo manages to imprint their own unique quality to the music with interesting sounds that dance in and out of their heart pounding, ass kicking riffs and hooks, all tied together with the strong, clear, powerful vocals of their lead singer, and made wonderful by terrific, well played guitar work.

“Diamond in the Rough” is heavy on the keyboard, sounding like some crazy kazoo mutation that perfectly complements the jaunty, fun tempo and full bore guitar work on this tune. Igor gets to stretch out a bit with a faster, more boisterous bass rhythm than what is usually used to temper most down fuzzed songs, while Pickles again reaches a vocal level that is pleasing and fitting, never coming up short when high, or bland when deep.

The beginning of “You” plays like a ballad, something we’ve all heard a thousand times before, while enjoying the best of what those past rock acts have offered. The start of the song showcases Pickles’ burly and melodious output as the sole instrument of effort before a wonderful wall of fuzz is unleashed, fleshing out the song as a wonderful example of what a power ballad can sound like when ensconced in the primal and proper genre of stoner rock. Mangoo firmly establishes here that they truly know how to make this sound work at the highest, most accomplished level.

Next up we are treated to another standard rock offering with “Lose Yourself”, a song that may have come from the glory years associated with Aerosmith and Zeppelin, or the later eras between QOTSA and Roadsaw, while being imprinted with some super groovy riffs, melodious hooks, and solos combining guitars and keyboards into something exclusive and unrivaled in quality, tone, intent, and power. This song is unique and familiar at the same time, intricate and catchy, fun to listen to, satisfying in its delivery.

Mangoo Logo in My Photos by

Mangoo throws in a quirky little interlude by Nikky and his keyboards before kicking into high gear with the powerful, ass kicking “You, Robot”. Here the fuzz is full and fine, the tempo quick and toothsome, the instrumentation unyielding in its delivery and assault, with Pickles driving it all forward on powerful vocals that lead into the delivery of an all out onslaught from the rest of the these Finnish fiends. This is a tremendous song that delivers a knockout in the early rounds.

The tone set by “You, Robot” continues with “Moom”, where the experience is fast, furious, fun, and fascinating. Mangoo are in full swing here, giving it all and enjoying the process, feeling the power surge forth from the expert manipulation of their metal medium.

“Painted Black” is another power ballad, where Pickles again showcases the raw dexterity of a voice that can deliver at the extremes as well as in the meaty middle where he is rich in ability and pleasing in quality, adept at working his voice around the notes, hitting what he needs to hit with vocal dexterity, meshing it all together until it becomes a beacon lighting the way for his piercing guitar solo at the end of this soaring track.

“Hooks” is a haunting, powerful, melodious offering of huge, distorted, mashing guitars that begin as another ballad of sorts but eventually detonates into a wonderful duel between the two guitars and the bass that has to be heard to be believed. Not that technically any records are broken, or new ground uncovered, which works to the song’s favor in my opinion, instead delivering something deep and full, powerful and unyielding, rich, satisfying, and unexpected if not ground breaking.

The next song is as surprising and out of context as a song can possibly be . . . at least for me and my, what I believe to be, normal expectations for a stoner album that has heretofore delivered nothing but high quality metal music. We are treated to just a second shy of a minute of . . . old country blue grass style music in the track titled “Home”. The fact that it’s out of context and yet still played with skill and enthusiasm, and the fact that I do have a place set aside within my musical preferences for bluegrass from years past and memories long gone, lends itself to actually enjoying this quirky and unexpected interlude, that, just as with all tracks on this album, is rendered with ability, class, enthusiasm, and quality.

The album closes out with “Datzun”, perhaps the epitome of what Mangoo has to offer, belting out those tremendous, delightful vocals, blaring the fuzz to satisfaction, driving hard with the drums and bass, intertwined with the ever present and quiriky keyboards that add to the delight and signature of Mangoo’s superb music, setting an established tone for choice hooks and riffs, powerful and muscular in tone, skilled, unique, and admirable in effort and ability.

Over the past few years Small Stone Records has established itself as THE source for obtaining CDs or vinyl of many of the highest quality metal artists the industry has to offer. They represent many up and coming bands, most of which have not yet been established in the mainstream, so don't necessarily get to be rock bands full time, aren't recognizable by large sections of the paying public, and don't always have their music playing on your local radio station, which typically is accepted as a sign of success, along with the monetary rewards that accompany widespread notoriety. But there is one unique identifier for these groups that establishes them as having 'made it'. If they have been signed by Small Stone Records you can rest assured they are one of the absolute best rock bands you are likely to find cranking out stoner, sludge, doom, or psychedelic tunes of the highest quality. And of the available bands from Small Stone Records comes one of their newest signings, Mangoo, who rises to the absolute top of the heap of great and wonderful stoner rock bands. And with Mangoo’s first Small Stone release, “Neverland”, is delivered an album worthy of purchase, worthy of inclusion in any consideration for upcoming awards, and with any luck, or if it just happens to catch the right ear, maybe worthy of widespread notoriety and all the trappings that come with it.

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