Two years ago, the American Heavy/Doom Metal band ARGUS put out its second album, “Boldly Stride The Doomed”. See my review here. This release received a lot of positive press, and it was a very good album, so… Two EPs and a live DVD later, the band returns with a new studio album: “Beyond The Martyrs”. This one came out on the 4th of October, again via the Italian label Cruz Del Sur Music. Album no. 3 contains 8 tracks, totalling a playtime of over 40 minutes of eargasmic Metal. The band will embark on a European tour, or rather, is currently on tour in Europe to promote this new release.
It begins with “By Endurance We Conquer”. You can’t start the album with a bang in this genre, it isn’t Thrash or Death Metal, you know. So a nice melodic guitar intro will do the job perfectly. Add the drums and little by little, all is unfolded, and it’s time to ROCK! Butch sings with a certain fierceness and passion, reminiscent (in my opinion) of Zak Stevens (CIRCLE II CIRCLE, ex-SAVATAGE), with the big difference that Butch has more power in his voice. The chorus has a hymnic character, which is very nice. The rhythm section is tight, and the guitar work stands out (leads and rhythm). All ends like it started. While it’s a rather simple song, it is damn tasty and, yes, perfect! First class material!
“No Peace Beyond The Line” does take off in a direct, melodic way, shifting afterwards into power mode. And this sounds so good. It’s the kind of music that can give you great feelings. The obligatory guitar solo is also very well done. Nothing fancy, but refined. “The Hands Of Time Are Bleeding” is also a midtempo track, but in vein of, for example, (old) CANDLEMASS. Melody still play a key role, and the tempo is a bit lower than before. Butch’s singing remain passionate. Contrasting with the slow verses is the faster chorus. Solo? Yep, and this time the band took the effort to give ’em space. Towards the end, ARGUS opted for a hymnic twist. So far, so very good.
Time for another tight song then: “Trinity”. It’s straight-forward, rhythmically tight, but with the required melodic input, of course. The vocals are hymnic. For the (refined) solos there’s again enough room. Towards the end of the song, though, things go into a more dramatic and slower direction. Nothing wrong there, as it prevents from having a too predictable song. “Four Candles Burning” also begins in a direct manner, with straight-forward, powerful verses. They contrast with the melodic, emotion-laden chorus. There’s a solo section as well, but not before the band has unleashed full, bombastic power. Awesome stuff!
ARGUS mix Heavy Metal and Doom Metal, and while the Heavy part dominates, the Doom part does fight for its place. Another example is “The Coward’s Path”. Clean verses opposed to a powerful, Doom Metal chorus. Over halfway, however, the band has found the gear changer. And that’s a good thing, as it makes the listening experience all the more exciting. This is also the part where the solo reside. After this slow side-step, it’s time to join forces again and ROCK! “Cast Out All Raging Spirits” certainly delivers the goods in that respect. Midtempo, melodic Heavy Metal with outstanding guitar work. Melody can mainly be found in the chorus. And the singing, as has been the case throughout the album, is still very passionate. Last but certainly not least, another Doom song, the title track: “Beyond The Martyrs”. Think of CANDLEMASS, WARNING, and similar. The band does shift into higher gear later on, but doesn’t forget there’s a speed limit to be respected, so they do slow down in time to reach the end. This song is fully instrumental, with the last part being clean with a distorted lead. Drums are absent then.
I got to know about ARGUS back in 2011 when their second album, “Boldly Stride The Doomed”, came out. It was pleasantly surprised, yet it took me a little while to really appreciate the band’s material. With “Beyond The Martyrs” it didn’t take that long to convince me. I might exaggerate a little, but “Boldly Stride The Doomed” was very good, “Beyond The Martyrs” is… magic! The songs, the compositions, the musicianship, the production, … splendid! Or as I said in the beginning: eargasmic! An absolute masterpiece and certainly one of the best albums of this year. For those into Heavy-meets-Doom: heavily recommended!
- By Endurance We Conquer
- No Peace Beyond The Line
- The Hands Of Time Are Bleeding
- Four Candles Burning
- The Coward’s Path
- Cast Out All Raging Spirits
- Beyond The Martyrs
Butch Balich – vocals
Erik Johnson – guitar
Jason Mucio – guitar
Andy Ramage – bass
Kevin Latchaw – drums