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"80's Metal Server Review"

http://www.80smetalserver.com/index.php/reviews/49-empire-asparagustus - 80's Metal Server Review

"Kris Keyes in India"

http://www.hindu.com/mp/2005/12/29/stories/2005122901310100.htm - The Hindu

"Kris Keyes and Gargantua Soul"


Gargantua Soul (G-soul) is a 6 piece originating from New Haven, CT. The music is hard-hitting, energetic rock & roll, with a focus on song writing as well as a visually appealing stage presence. It has tribal undertones, heavy riffing, funky beats, soulful vocals, and positive, meaningful lyrics. Gargantua Soul has an original sound comprised of many different styles and influences.


SOME OF THEIR MOST NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS ARE LISTED BELOW: - G-Soul's 'Drive' video aired repeatedly on the music/sports-related show X-Trax in September 2001 on ESPN. -Gargantua Soul appeared on the USA Network's popular music show Farmclub.com!!! -G-Soul was featured in a VH-1 Original Movie about the music industry entitled At Any Cost. In the film the band performs their song 'Drive' and portrays a hot unsigned band called the 'Strange Divas.' -G-Soul played the emerging artists' stage at Woodstock '99, commanding attention from MTV, VH1, Much Music, newspapers, & magazines across the country -- lead singer Kris Keyes even made the cover of the Washington Post! - Thanks to the promotion of two of the best radio marketing teams in the country, Howard Rosen Promotions and Concrete Radio Marketing, G-Soul charted in Album Network, FMQB & CMJ through college and commercial stations across the country. Due to an overwhelming response from fans, Gargantua Soul's song 'Drive' and “Calling My America” has been added to regular rotation on Connecticut's leading commercial rock station and continual supporter of G-Soul THE ROCK WCCC 106.9 fm. -The band had a brief spotlight on E! Television (by being thrown off the Howard Stern Show). -Their song 'Drive' was awarded 4th place out of 40,000 entries in the JOHN LENNON SONGWRITING CONTEST ! G-Soul has shared the stage and toured with Staind, Rage Against the Machine, Union Underground, Soil, Godsmack, Buck Cherry, Taproot, Monster Magnet, Skrape, Drowning Pool, Kittie, Suicidal Tendencies, Bad Brains, 2 Skinny J's, Nonpoint, Murphy's Law, Revielle, Machine Head, Candiria, Orgy, Mystical, Wu Tang Clan, Goldfinger, Pete, 6 Gig and many more.... - All Gargantua Soul recordings can be purchased at Transworld locations, (all Strawberries, FYE, Coconuts ) Record Express chains, most mom & pop record stores, and online at Amazon.com, Wonderdrugrecords.com, CDBaby.com, CDStreet.com, and through most of the major distributors such as Valley, Northeast Distro, Midwest Artist, CD 1 Stop, West Coast Digital Waves, and All Indie!

- Magic Bus

"Kris Keyes and Gargantua Soul"

Gargantua Soul: the best new and largely unknown band I've heard
Dec 06 '00

Gargantua Soul is a 7-man rap-metal outfit, but they defy the conventions of the young genre by being sincere about their beliefs, avoiding mindless rage and misogyny, and having a ton of musical talent. They come from New Haven, CT, and The First, The Last, The Tribe is their first full-length album, on Wonderdrug Records. It was preceded by a self-titled demo with five tracks that's probably difficult to find unless perhaps it's still available directly from the band. It's not an essential album at all, as the two best tracks, "Drive" and "God My" are included on the new album in slightly remixed versions, along with nine other great tracks. G-Soul's music is available from cdnow.com (I don't know why there are two versions; the version I have and am mostly reviewing here is the one released in August that sells for the cheaper price of the two), from the band at shows/through the website at www.gsoul.com, and also sometimes pops up on Napster, though I believe that, since G-Soul isn't on a major label and is working hard to support themselves, you owe it to them to buy their album if you like the music.

Gargantua Soul, like a lot of up-and-coming bands without a lot of radio airplay or major-label support, is trying to build a fan-base by playing live. They've done some pretty big shows (playing at Woodstock, opening for Rage Against the Machine at a show on the last tour, and filling some sizable venues in Connecticut), but they've managed to stay beneath the radar because so many people rely on MTV and radio for finding new music. Therefore, they also still play a lot of really small shows, like the two I've attended at Cafe Eclipse in Concord, New Hampshire (right near my hometown). By the way, Cafe Eclipse is an incredibly cool place, bringing in great shows to a fantastic small venue without allowing drinking or anything else that would exclude teenagers. New Hampshire is pretty backwoods, so we're not going to get a lot of acts that anyone knows, but there's plenty of talent in some of the unknown bands that play at Cafe Eclipse, even if they are being opened for by bands full of preppie kids from the local high school. So, I want to offer props to Christian, who owns and runs Cafe Eclipse, and recommend the club to anyone near Concord, New Hampshire.

Ok, so I've seen G-Soul live twice. They're at their best live, because Kris Keyes is a simply AWESOME frontman. As the band comes out, the backing musicians all look like the typical rag-tag metal band bunch...and then there's Kris Keyes as the Prophet of the Fire. He looks whacked even in street clothes, with his huge muscles and funky hair, but he takes it up a level before he goes on stage. He wears black spandex shorts and torn-to-heck jeans, and paints his whole body and face with garish colors, to take on his role as the Prophet.

You have to be pretty crazy to pull off coming on-stage half-naked and painted mostly red, but Kris Keyes is THAT CRAZY. He can't come up there and sing half-heartedly, looking like that; it would be foolish. And he clearly loves his music anyways. So he really gets out there and puts himself into it. Lots of front-men play around with involving the crowd...they'll bring a couple people up on stage to dance and help out on the chorus, or they'll hold the mic out for everyone to yell every so often, or maybe once in a great while a singer will walk around in front of the stage with the crowd, although he'll almost always insist that everyone back off of him a little bit. That's not Kris Keyes. He is TOTALLY connected to the audience, and there's a phenomenal level of trust.

The last time I went to a G-Soul show, Kris Keyes jumped out into the crowd twice, and we held him up while he sang, at times holding him UPSIDE DOWN WITH HIS FEET ON THE CEILING. He was right above me, since the crowd was only a few dozen people, and I got covered in paint and sweat. In a lot of circumstances, having a big, sweaty, half-naked man who's painted himself with paint that rubs off jump onto you wouldn't be cool, but in the atmosphere of this concert, it was incredible. Part of the message of G-Soul is that we are a tribe, we are all one, we are together, and we are strong. This message isn't a put-on; Kris Keyes and the rest of the band clearly love the fans, and hold tons of trust and respect for the people who enjoy their music. Another really cool thing they did was spending a lot of time chilling with fans after the show. True, they have a lot to gain by paying attention to their fans, as they're trying to make a living and the fans are the ones who help them do that, but I get a sense the guys in G-Soul are having fun with everything, want to make music more than anything else, and would care about their fans regardless of the monetary situation.

I should describe the sound of G-Soul in detail. I've heard them compared to Faith No More, which is a pretty good match on a basic level. They use a standard rock lineup, except that Kris Keyes raps a lot and they also include turntables and keyboards. Some tracks are very rap, like the obviously-named opening "The First". It's mostly a boastful song about the band's merits, and it features goofy rap lyrics like "Loud like a Harley. Fat like Chris Farley/I the G. Your Fly Escort. I bring you more relief than any St. John's Wort".

I don't know how tongue-in-cheek these lyrics are, but I can't imagine that they, or the even more ludicrous Star Wars-inspired lyrics on "Drive"("Darth is a powerful flow/I got the force y'all and like Vader do not know/The Jedi that I be...that you be...we all be...is so fancy-free/Like Obi-Wan Kenobi"), are entirely serious. Still, even in these songs that contain a lot of focus on rapping talent and silly rhymes, there is a message. "The First" includes the lines (sung, not rapped, by the way) "Paradise ain't what it seems. Characterized by in-betweens/Mesmerized by what it means. Paradise ain't what it seems". Most importantly though, these songs seriously ROCK, in a way that a lot of bands don't do any more. "Drive" has an incredible hard beat and some beautiful guitar riffs. It's an incredible metal song, but Kris Keyes raps over it. It's everything rap-metal should be and Limp-Bizkit isn't.

Another fine moment on this album is "Prophet of the Fire". The song starts off quiet with a heavy bass part, then some light guitar and a steady drum beat. Then Kris Keyes comes in with some pretty restrained rapping. The purpose of all of this is to build up for one of the single best moments of music I've ever heard. About 45 seconds into the song, the instrumentation drops out, and Kris Keyes SCREAMS "I AM THE PROPHET OF THE FIRE". The incredible power of that lyric is reflected in the re-entry of the guitars, and the song runs the rest of the way off that energy. It's great.

My favorite G-Soul song though, and the song that will bring them popularity if anything can, is "God My". It's the most purely rock/metal of G-Soul's songs, with less rap influence. It's also the song that most clearly expresses the deeper message of G-Soul, beyond all the yelling and the Star Wars raps. It begins with some background vocals that sound like church singing, very heavenly and hard to make words out of. Then it's replaced by a little guitar part, then a woman's voice singing for a little bit, and finally Kris Keyes comes in singing "There will always be a light/There will always be a way". There's a little bit of a bridge, and then some more fine Kris Keyes singing: "Four characteristics I want my God to have inside my life/Unconditional love, and the attitude nurturing what's right/Fitness, humility, and the ignorance the path/I am one goal, one strength, one God for the light in man". That's the crux of the G-Soul message right there. As the song continues, it becomes clear that Kris Keyes is a rapper as well as a singer, and he rips through the chorus: "Everything you do and everything you say/Makes me excited, just like a kid in play/Now to the man with the plan no delay/God stands on the mountain". The song runs through three more verses and the chorus again, slowly moving the theme away from the positive discussion of God to a more melancholy reflectiveness, but still informed by the joy of the beginning. The song fades as it ends, as Kris Keyes and the band bring the energy down from the high of the beginning to a slower, more thoughtful level. It ends with a lot of repetitions of the word "disarming", and a return to the angelic background singing.

So, maybe some of you are off-put by the God stuff. I'm not a Christian, and it doesn't bother me. A lot of the best art out there is inspired by Christianity: cathedrals, paintings of the saints, books like Dante's Divine Comedy or Milton's Paradise Lost, even another of my favorite musical artists, Sunny Day Real Estate. While Gargantua Soul is a lot more direct in discussing God than SDRE, I enjoy hearing about the beliefs the band holds, and they make me reflect on my own spirituality, even though, and in fact because, they do not precisely match it. Furthermore, I think the spiritual views of the band make a lot of sense. The God they talk about is empowering and cares for humans. He is the reason that we are strong and glorious. I can't object to this; my problem with mainstream religion is that it makes people weak, telling them that they need to be told what to do and how to think by the church. When God appears in the music of Gargantua Soul, he is an inclusive, positive force. Furthermore, a lot of the spirituality is strictly humanistic and emphasizes the tribe, unity, and making ourselves strong. So, if any mention of the word God makes you gag, steer away, but don't feel like this is Christian music in the sense that only Christians can enjoy it. I'm not a Christian, and I enjoy G-Soul immensely. If I could rate The First, The Last, The Tribe, I would give it 4 stars. I hope they eventually get the mainstream success that they so richly deserve, even if it will lead everyone who likes them now to go into a snit and talk about "selling out".

- Epinions





Finally in your favor is a band that is unique....a band that is doing something very different than the standards of todays music. Empire is heavily influenced by the sounds of both yesterday and today...Watch as the sounds of the future and the past are meshed together in this New England based Rock Act. Empire is comprised of Kris Keyes (former singer of Gargantua Soul), Michael Beaulieu (guitarist, recording engineer, producer, composer and arranger), Eric Sudarsky, (keyboardist, song writer, composer), Chris Goode (bassist, song writer) and Marc Pelkey (percussion). It was in September of 08 that Kris Keyes contacted Michael Beaulieu through Myspace. This was done through an email which only read, "I sing." In the past Kris had performed with many bands. Two of these bands were Gargantua Soul and Blind Justice. Gargantua Soul was a huge success which sold 50,000 CDs without the help of a record company. They were a band that was at the top and in their hayday shared the same tour manager as "Rage Against the Machine. Gargantua Soul played at Woodstock "99" and at that time they were the biggest unsigned band in America. Blind Justice was a National Act which had many great musicians and had also created a following and a buzz across the East Coast. The history speaks for itself because very few bands out of the New England area have ever gained this kind of recognition. Kris Keyes is a front man with no limits and will go to any lengths to back his performance. Kris came to Mike and had many songs which were in need of special attention. Eric Sudarsky and Michael had a flood of songs that were written and partially recorded during a long and winded two year period. Exhausted, Eric and Michael were about to part seperate ways due to the frustration of not being able to find the right singer and musicians to make the vision sail. The East Coast is filled with original musicians which are relaxed, uncommitted and stuck in a cover band scene with the luxuries of a New England lifestyle. The weeding through endless musicians just to find one committed musician was becoming very tiring and pointless. Not having all of the members was an endless battle. On this Coast original music is scarce and although there are bands doing original music there is not a lot of public interest or at least not enough to make a big bang. Most great musicians go to the West Coast to connect. It was evident that a great front man would be needed to pull off the magic trick. In October of 2008 Kris Keyes and Michael Beaulieu had set out to form the EMPIRE. Empire is a brand new band which is creating a big bang through structured music and a theatrical chaotic show which touches the many genres. Please stay tuned for shows and tour dates through the EMPIRE myspace. Every show is different and exciting. Empire has created real music for real people. You will not be dissapointed, you will be left with the feeling of wanting more. Our influences range from the Beatles- Rush- Dream Theater- Yes- Rage Against the Machine- Genesis- way too many to list. What sets us apart from other bands is our being able to play original accessible music which has many flavors and colors of many styles of yesterday and today. Odd time signatures but not overdone. The music is very interesting, has a classical form, is very exciting with great lyrics and front man. We do not sound like any other band. The music is catchy. We have been told that the music of EMPIRE is timeless.