Having thoroughly enjoyed the Adruini/Balich album from earlier this year I felt happily honour-bound to cover the new release from vocalist Butch Balich’s main band Argus. With a voice as utterly and intrinsically “Metal” as Balich’s, with a band possessing heaviness to match, Argus always pack a punch and their fourth full-length album ‘From Fields Of Fire’ is of course no exception. Argus are one of those bands that a friend of mine would quickly dub “Proper Metal”, and in a way it is. It’s Doom-tinged Heavy Metal, played by powerful drums, bass and guitars without keyboard embellishment – full of riffs and solos and topped off by a vocalist that typifies Classic Metal with every full-force note.
Aside from the poignant acoustic guitar/nuclear holocaust sound effect intro, it’s full-on Heavy Metal all the way, but including more nuances than it first suggests. There’s an overall sound like a cross between Angel Witch and Grand Magus, especially on tracks like ‘You Are The Curse’, but also hints of Pathos in tracks like ‘As A Thousand Thieves’ and ‘Devil Of Your Time’ with their in-yer-face delivery and huge, rounded guitar sound. At times I’m reminded of Crimson Glory’s “Astronomica” album due to Balich’s occasional similarity to Wade Black as well as the overall grandiose musical feel of tracks like ‘Hour Of Longing’.
But of course that’s not the whole story, because there is always that dark edge to Argus. As a prime example, it gets thrust completely to the fore on the title track, which emulates Solitude Aeturnus or even Candlemass in it’s slow, powerful, brooding manner. There’s also a fabulous amount of Lizzy/Maiden/Priest twin guitar moments throughout the album (try the epic ‘No right To Grieve’ for size!) and maybe even some early Wishbone Ash…? Hmm, or am I just trying to link this band with their “Argus” album…
Maybe it was a mistake, but I’ve tried to steer away from using descriptive words like, solid, no-nonsense and traditional because the connotations could possibly be construed as unimaginative and Argus are much more than that, as dipping into any of the songs on offer here is testament to. Argus ARE all those things, but as it should be – in a really good, interesting, compelling way! They prove how great two guitars, bass and drums with a dynamic Metal voice can be, carrying on the wonderful tradition of true Heavy Metal. They hold the listeners attention with mature musicianship, professional arrangements and an unrelenting power that is impossible to ignore.
(8/10 Andy Barker)