Review: GARGOYL “Gargoyl” [Season of Mist]

Review: GARGOYL “Gargoyl” [Season of Mist]

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This year the young American-Canadian band Gargoyl has released their first self-titled album “Gargoyl” through the iconic label Season of Mist. More than year ago they have teased the audience with two-song EP “Asomatous”, which immediately caught the attention of notorious music records. The material even on that short EP was innovative and with pretty modern vibes, so no wonder, they so soon have struck a deal with such a big name.

The musicians from Gargoyl aren’t a gang of unprofessional newbies, this project belongs to guitarist Dave Davidson from “Redemption” and Luke Robertson from “Ayahuasca”, and each one of them contributed equally in creating the material. They both play different kind of music in their main projects – Dave stays true to death metal with a progressive touch, but Luke favoured grunge and punk rock, but in a quite experimental and technical form. So the music of Gargoyl turned out to be curiously balanced and consensual, everything sounds pertinent and modern, demonstrating the multidimensional nature of musical vision of these talented composers, and despite the experimental approach, it still sounds catchy and easy-to-perceive.

The songs of Gargoyl are incredibly coherently written, and despite the progressive spirit, the minimalistic approach isn’t less important, which keeps this release well grounded. And the dirty grunge atmosphere doesn’t spoil the intellectual complexity. Unorthodox technical guitar riffs sometimes remind of mathcore, but at the same time the simplicity and monotonousness of rhythm-section with evocative vocals, discard all the smarty-faced pretentions. The influence of groove, jazz, blues, psychedelia and heavy metal makes this progressive grunge absolutely unique combo, where acoustic melancholy coexists with aggressive southern stoner rock (like Opeth in collaboration with Alice in Chains). Sometimes “Gargoyl” sounds straight from the 1990s, but generally the original moves and well-coordinated mixture of different musical styles from the progressive perspective prove its contemporary sounding.

The significant role belongs to memorable technical guitar chords, the structural base of the songs; and though they are enmeshed in diverse range of musical ideas, their frequent mathematically poised design reminds of powerful djent (“Electrical Sickness”). Rhythmically the pace gently fluctuates, but mostly stays in the mid-tempo; the song “Ambivalent I” is the fastest and “Asphyxia” is almost a ballad. The blues influence pops up mostly through the guitar solos (“Ophidian”), but the jazzy foundation in “Acid Crown” is due to the genius of guest saxophonist Erik Van Dam. Disharmonic progressivity is always absorbed by sludgy punk attitude with a low-key rhythm and utterly mesmerizing voice of Luke. He has a high-pitched and shrill voice, as well as intentionally boring, ideally fitting to this torrent of experimental music. From the very first track “Truth of a Tyrant” it becomes clear, how important are the vocal lines (that’s a-cappella song a là Queen). But the songs “Ophidian”, “Nightmare Conspiracy” and “Ambivalent I” echo the charming back-vocals of Canadian jazz songstress Jocelyn Barth.

Surely at first it may seem that an outbreak of emotions and diversity, like it is well illustrated on the cover art, is assured, but the music of Gargoyl is well-considered and composed, that’s why it doesn’t cause the sense of confusion, on the contrary, every song is easily remembered and integral. Indeed the musical scene longed for such intellectual novelties as Gargoyl – stylistically original and emotionally reserved.

Release date: October 9th, 2020

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About the author

I am into metal music from the school times, started from traditional genres, and now exploring the experimental scene. I'm also interested in modern architecture and contemporary art.

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