It’s really not fair to other record labels that Holy Roar Records exists. While Matt has been the main voice of our adoration for them on Heavy Blog, there are plenty more of us that are just in awe with the work they’ve been doing. Not only do they have an excellent roster but they also drip with style, professionalism and the willingness to deviate from what you’d normally expect to come out of their releases. To such an exception we turn our eyes today in this, the third of my contributions to our ongoing series checking in with the label. This time around, we have Garganjua, a band whose comparison to Pallbearer is immediate and somewhat shallow, as they add much to the formula of “emotional doom” espoused by Pallbearer’s meteoric rise to fame.
The base is, to be certain, very reminiscent of Pallbearer’s style. From the very first few notes (bloody excellent notes mind you; I absolutely adore the chords this album opens with) to the ending of Through the Void, Garganjua bring feelings to the forefront in a major way. Through the vocals, both harsh and clean, emotive leads and lingering chords, the band communicate melancholy, inner exploration and a desire for personal growth. So far, so good; but Garganjua add something to the formula in the form of heaviness and deeper bottom, adding a vibe that’s true to their name. Something about Through the Void simply towers over you, creating a vibe that’s more about standing in awe in front of something than about looking deep within you at the inner darkness.
The title track is a great example of this. On one hand, the tones and chord progressions used should be inherently familiar to someone versed in the modern iterations on doom, adding some touches on the leads that might remind us of a slower Elder. But as the track progresses and reaches its death throes over ten minutes later, the emphasis turns from the upper echelons of treble to the deep rumblings in the deep of bass and feedback. These transform the track and work in different ways with the clean and harsh vocals. When the clean vocals intone their visions of despair and inner power, the larger backdrop gives them an intriguing type of focus. The harsh vocals blend with the instruments to tip the arrangement closer to funeral doom, drawing an even heavier tack over the whole thing.
Which is where, maybe, lies the power of this release and its addition to the Holy Roar roster. There’s something about it that’s weirdly familiar and familiarly weird; we’ve heard bands on this label perform these kind of tricks before. Garganjua, like many bands under Holy Roar’s wing, have their own take on their genre and their own vision of it. Through the Void is, at the end of the day, an extremely solid release with its own unique take and that appears to be the “only” criterion when it comes to entering the hallowed files of Holy Roar Records. Stay tuned for the next iteration; you know it’s going to be great.