Moghul- Dead Empires

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, January 6, 2013

At first glance England’s Moghul might seem like another new face to the doom/sludge genre, but their debut EP Dead Empires reveals a sound that isn’t just run of the mill. In addition to the heavy tonality and grooves listeners would expect from this type of material, there’s a distinctive 70s prog and psychedelic influence as well as some desert/stoner rock style passages as well giving the two songs on this release a good deal of variety.

Considering that these are the first two tracks the band is releasing to the public, the fact that they span nine and thirteen minutes in length showcases that the group is ambitious and willing to give their material the time to grow. The EP begins with the title track “Dead Empires” which kicks in with the heavy tonality you would expect and starts a slow lumbering groove. It initially sounds as though the band might simply go the Electric Wizard route and let the skull crushing grooves span the length of the track, but about halfway in the guitars break free and switch to a sprawling melody that creates a mesmerizing sense of atmosphere. The melodic and heavy riffs intertwine to create a soundscape that’s very different in feel from your average doom act, as there are hints of 70s progressive rock and even some post metal present. But it’s the second number “Hidden Hand” that stands out the most. This track utilizes the same type of melodic lead but lets it sprawl out for even longer, establishing a hazy psychedelic atmosphere that also has hints of desert rock and blues as it progresses. The more adventurous approach of this track works quite well, and this type of experimentation leaves me anxious to see what else the instrumentalists have up their sleeves.

As you might expect from a release that has sprawling instrumental arrangements, the vocals aren’t often the primary focus on Dead Empires but the various styles that the band is able to utilize fit their style nicely. Initially the vocals start off as a clean pitch that’s gruff and sounds as though it is coming from the background, but this changes over to a loud growl that is sure to remind listeners of quite a few post metal bands. On “Hidden Hand” there’s some interplay between the cleaner and harsher styles, as the two operate in tandem for a good portion of the track in order to create a dynamic performance. This is one area that I’d like to see the group expand upon moving forward, as it adds significantly to their sound.

Moghul impresses with their debut EP, and their integration of some prog and psychedelic influences into a crushing doom/sludge base is sure to hook listeners. The longer length of the tracks gives the instrumentalists the freedom to fully explore their ideas, and I hope that this sense of experimentation and adventure continues to be a defining element of their material. And when you consider that this band’s barely a year old, it seems as though there will be plenty to look forward to.

Leave a Reply