Monday, May 23, 2011

Argus - Boldly Stride The Doomed

Boldly Stride The Doomed
Cruz Del Sur Music

Although barely registering above and beyond the underground scene, the self-titled debut effort from Pennsylvania (U.S.) based outfit Argus was well received across the board, with many claiming that the band were an act to keep an eye out for with the release of their next album.
Two years on, and the five piece act (Comprising of ex-Penance vocalist Butch Balich, Oh Shit They’re Going To Kill Us guitarist Jason Mucio, Vrolok guitarist Erik Johnson, Oh Shit They’re Going To Kill Us bassist Andy Ramage and ex-Abdullah/ Vrolok drummer Kevin Latchaw) have returned with their second full-length effort ‘Boldly Stride The Doomed’ (Which is their first for Cruz Del Sur Music after moving on from Shadow Kingdom Records). And as expected, Argus has well and truly lived up to the hype that’s been surrounding them for the last few years.
While the band is generally lumped within the doom genre, there’s more to Argus’ sound than simply doom influenced metal in the vein of Candlemass, Grand Magus and Black Sabbath. While the doom aspects of the band’s sound is undeniable, so to is their classic/retro metal sound, where influences from the likes of Iron Maiden, Trouble and Slough Feg are evident throughout the ten tracks the band offer up this time around on their new album.
After a short acoustic based instrumental opening track (‘Abandoning The Gates Of Byzantium’), the band really get things underway with the mid-paced bruiser ‘A Curse On The World’. With a tandem guitar rhythm section that brings to mind Iron Maiden, a heavy bass presence throughout and a strong and commanding presence of Balich out front, ‘A Curse On The World’ is a huge sounding anthem, and certainly one of best examples of the timeless classic metal sound Argus admirably pull off in real style.
Both ‘Wolves Of Dusk’ and the slower paced ‘The Ladder’ are notable for their subtle complexities within the construction of their riff structures and dominance of melodic lead work, while the lengthy ‘Durendal’ unashamedly brings to mind classic early era Iron Maiden through and through.
‘42-7-29’ and the epic ‘Pieces Of Your Smile’ are by far the most doom metal sounding efforts on the album, with the melancholy feel of the former bolstered with some great piano work, and the latter slowed down to emphasise the dooming atmosphere the band are aiming for, while the title track ‘Boldly Stride The Doomed’ is quite the opposite to what the title otherwise would suggest, with the song turning out to be a short, fast paced metallic anthem.
Finishing up the album is the dual paced ‘Fading Silver Light’, and the closing instrumental piece ‘The Ruins Of Ouroboros’, which is essentially a reprisal of the opening intro.
Argus isn’t exactly the most revolutionary act, but then given how much fun their latest album is, does it really matter? Take it from me, fans of traditional heavy metal and those who enjoy a bit of doom metal will find plenty to enjoy within ‘Boldly Stride The Doomed’.

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© Justin Donnelly