22 Sep 2017

Argus: "From Fields of Fire"

The difficult fourth one? No chance, this is the confident next album!
Debuts are hard, the follow-up is tough and the third one perhaps even more so. So what do you do when you already have three exceptional albums in the bagage? If you do like Argus from Pennsylvania, USA, you keep on going with unabated ardor.

From Fields of Fire is indeed Argus' fourth album, and while it did not at first kindle my inner fire, it has definitely grown on me in a relatively short period of time. For those unfamiliar with Argus, shame on you, listen to Boldly Stride the Doomed this very instant! No excuses, streaming still runs rampant.

In all seriousness though, From Fields of Fire ignites a fire of imposing grandeur with compositions equal to mountains in heaviness and to the ocean in vastness. Argus' rich, thick and meaty rhythm section is cleft in twain with the rolls of flesh-rending guitars and vocals performed with the power to blow away a forest. There is nothing mystical about their music - It's just straight up heavy metal as it should be, plain and simple.

You Are the Curse was a strange choice for the sole single to precourse the album. True, the chorus hits home with the usual ease of Argus, but the verse and general instrumentation is relatively sparse compared to seemingly superior compositions like Devils of Your Time or As a Thousand Thieves.

"...the three previous efforts have by now proven to stand the test of time better than most,"

After the first two listenings From Fields of Fire, the group's third album, didn't feel quite like the same instant hit that the first three had posed. At first it feels a little less threatening by packing a little less of a punch. But it felt like it might be a grower, and the three previous efforts have by now proven to stand the test of time better than most, so I kept listening. Finally with the third listen it clicked!

What at first seems like passages that could stand to be padded a little more are actually just trimmed to feature only the most menacing of elements that serve to individually accentuate the whole. Vocalist Butch Balich hammers home a thousand times over his capabilities as one of THE most talented metal vocalists. His raw power and gruff range is matched by very few, and surpassed by even less.

In comparison to Argus' earlier albums, From Fields of Fire feels slightly more progressive thanks to its heavy nods to old school NWOBHM. Whereas their eponymous album, Boldly Stride the Doomed and Beyond the Martyrs had a definite doom metal edge, sounding akin to groups like Solitude Aeturnus or Candlemass, the newest effort is more of an Angel Witch or Satan tribute.

You can liken Argus to their contemporaries in Grand Magus or Slough Feg all you want, but they are still entirely their own. Though they have mixed things up a bit and altered their process a bit, they have stayed remarkably true to their sound and style without any signs of tiring.


Released in 2017 by Cruz del Sur Music