Release Date: May 3, 2011
These days it seems everyone and their sister’s boytoy are being called the latest, greatest “doom” band. Most are insufferable shit, with a few exceptions. So I was prepared to dislike Argus. I know, glass half empty thinking is for idiots, but regardless, I was proven wrong right out the gate. Perhaps if I’d ever listened to their debut self-titled work I might have been more optimistic, but still, I love to be proven wrong. Boldly Stride The Doomed represents the band’s first effort for Italy based Cruz Del Sur Music.
These Pennsylvania based rockers are really more of a classic metal band with doom influences and elements. Think Iron Maiden and Candlemass with some Black Sabbath nuances.
One of the first things that sets Argus apart from many of their contemporaries is the voice of singer Butch Balich (ex-Penance). He has a very solid and clear approach that’s refreshing among the doom circles. Lay that over the dual lead attack of guitarists Jason Mucio and Erik Johnson and you’ve got something pretty damn exciting.
Argus manage to bring the doom without turning every track into a painful dirge. The album opener is the acoustic instrumental intro “Abandoning The Gates Of Byzantium”, which quickly gives way to “A Curse On The World”, wherein one quickly hears the Maiden influence in the guitars. Perhaps even a touch of classic Dio.
“The Wolves Of Dusk” come to prey upon your ears next, ratcheting up the aggression. The riffage and vocals on this one would do Kirk Windstein proud. Bassist Andy Ramage and drummer Kevin Latchaw prove a formidable rhythm section.
“Durendal” jumps off with a pure Maidenesque harmony guitar attack. While you may be wondering if these guys are simply mimicking Maiden, the answer is no. They have their own distinct signature, but it’s impossible to miss the legendary twin leads made so popular by Dee Murray and Adrian Smith. The line between homage and copycat is a thin one that Argus walks well.
For sheer eeriness and that Sabbath-vibe, one must listen to “42-7-29”. There’s even a piano roll-out at the end of this one that brings it to a chilling or sad finale… Depending on your take.
The title track is a chunky, galloping beast which kicks off with a riff that recalls classic Rush, to my ear anyway, but that quickly gives way to that Maiden sound again. If there is one key defining element to Argus’ sound it is the voice of Balich, which elevates every song with it’s power and clarity.
Throughout the album you hear constant change from track to track while maintaining the fluidity of the album as a whole. Galloping guitars and at times military-like drumming, as if the band is prepared to set off to war. Perhaps they are.
The album’s longest track, the 11-minute epic, “Piece Of Your Smile” is perhaps the doomiest and slowest paced of the bunch. Yet, even here there are plenty of time changes as the pace ebbs and flows. This is arguably the most unique song on the album, and a stand out among many great tracks.
The album closes out with the bookend to the album’s intro. “The Ruins Of Ouroboros” takes us out as “Abandoning The Gates Of Byzantium” brought us in. A perfect way to round out the record.
This is an excellent sophomore album. It has moments which border on epic, and shows serious promise for future offerings. Fans of both doom and traditional metal can sink their teeth into this one and come away satiated.
Learn more about Argus at http://www.argusmetal.com