The Shenandoah, Pennsylvania duo known as Gargons is made up of brothers, Josh and Justin Metkus. Already with a pretty long track record of playing in original and cover bands (15 years), both of them have spent laying down their musical know how on guitar and bass through the years. Now, with Justin taking over on the drums, Josh continues playing the guitar while singing and doing the songwriting. After previous bands they were in fizzled out, the brothers sat down, recorded some tunes and debuted Roles E.P. which came out this past June. Recorded in spare bedrooms and Josh’s basement the songs are gritty, grungy but with a streak of the bluesy hard rock, punk and some sludge rock as well. Listeners have stated that their music reminds them of Soundgarden, Corrosion of Conformity, Queen of the Stone Age and hard rock from the ‘70s. Lyrically, the songs are raw and poetic with stories about life’s ups and downs.
“Slow Death” begins things with a slow, sludgy rhythm and a dark moody feeling. The influence of Queens of the Stone Age comes through pretty good here and I liked the sound of Justin’s snare – sloppy and raw. “Tweekend” picks up the tempo with a “chug-chug-chug” guitar riff somewhat like old school ‘80s metal. I really liked the chords Josh was playing on this one, very catchy. What I like lyrically about this song, is that it said so much in just under three minutes. From an inner struggle – “for how long can you fight with yourself until both side loose” to understanding your place in life and feeling grateful – “going nowhere and I’m going fast / but I know I’ll cherish my past” and coming to terms with past mistakes – “on my own I did this” – good honest stuff.
“Shadows” features an inspirational message with deep questions like, “has the voice of the universe ever spoken and changed your mind?” I understood the song’s overall message to be – don’t waste your life thinking what might have been, seize the day, the time is now, so… make it happen! Musically, this one has a nice, low dark sound, I’d say a cross between grunge and goth. Midway through the chords change and the tempo gets a bit faster, making for an interesting arrangement. “No Collar” offers a funky rock beat, kind of reminding me of a much heavier, sludge rock version of Molly Hatchet. The part I liked the best was the band rhyming words –“third” with “absurd.” I don’t know, I just a kick out of words that you don’t give much thought to when rhyming, and then, you see them go well together in a song.
The next song “Keep Swimming” offers more encouraging messages – “live your life in simple ways / find the good and make it stay / hold no anger or hate” about letting go of the past and just to keep your head above water. The tempo here is way slow and the style gets deep and gritty. If the Metkus brothers got any darker on this song, with a few more minor chords thrown in, they might start sounding like Sabbath. I absolutely loved the beginning of “Oxidized” with what sounds like synths, and just when I thought Gargons couldn’t get any heavier, or darker, or slower in tempo, this tune comes along. Josh wrote some desperate, dystopian lyrics – “strolling through all your delusions, your brain is oxidized / so eat what they are feeding / graze on until you die.” My only criticism of this number was that it was too short. The duo plays some great minor chords and then the song ends. Bummer.
The last number is the band’s shortest and has styles of punk, heavy ‘70s rock with hints of the blues rock. The playing arrangements of Josh’s guitar reminds me of bands like Ram Jam, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Mountain. In “Wealthy State of Mind” Josh writes some pretty awesome lyrics about how he sees the world around him. Taking stabs at those who lose themselves in booze and junk food, holy rollers who pray too much, Big Brother creeping us all out and all the creature comforts we indulge in to get away from the madness in this world, so we can forget about reality. Honest songwriting like this keeps us anchored, even if it hurts. Look forward to hearing more.
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