Argus
Beyond The Martyrs


3.8
excellent

Review

by Voivod STAFF
September 20th, 2013 | 47 replies


Release Date: 10/04/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: There is no peace.

Genres aside, it’s always nice to see obscure bands achieving a steady and healthy growth ascribable on their merit alone, and it’s inspiring that the said outfits are doing so, while defying all obstacles posed by the so-called “crisis of the music industry”. In that respect, it is time for the spotlight to shed light on Argus, an old school metal band from the ever active metal scene of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Argus made a first bold step forward with their 2009 eponymous album at Shadow Kingdom Records, an album that put at display the band’s fresh, yet far from refined, view about blending traditional metal with doom metal and the blues. The album received quite an acclaim within the underground metal circles, and quite soon it became apparent that the band had to reach out to the current cradle of old school heavy metal, Europe.

In that light, Argus joined forces with the Italian label Cruz Del Sur Music and began work on new material. The band’s sophomore album, Boldly Stride The Doomed, captured the band in excellently blending the old school heavy metal of outfits such as Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy and Omen, with the aggressive epic doom metal of early ‘90s doom metal bands, such as Solitude Aeturnus and Penance. Both the album and the band became acquainted with a much wider audience, resulting in an increase of live concerts in Europe and the US. Upon the completion of all activities for their sophomore album, it was time for Argus to start preparing for a follow-up album, and indeed, throughout 2012 and 2013, the band went on composing and recording new songs that have come to form their third full length affair Beyond The Martyrs, an album of merit that sees the band in migrating decisively towards traditional metal.

The band’s decision to promote “classic” over doom metal, is firstly evident to the sound texture of the rhythm guitars. Unlike the previous two albums, their volume is somewhat restrained, an indirect hint that Beyond The Martyrs is, above all, an old school epic/heavy metal album. The album kicks off with the abstract yet sad, introductory melody of “By Endurance We Conquer” and those already familiar with the band may be misled to believe that Argus will still be dooming as usual. On the contrary though, the song is readily transformed into a galloping metal anthem, in which Brian Banick’s impressive mid-range-pitch vocals become instantly the first asset of merit to account for. Having been given the proper depth and dynamics in the final mix, Banick’s quality vocal work in Beyond The Martyrs is no surprise, as his skill was put in record in previous Argus albums and during the days and works of the (underrated) doom metal act of Penance. In giving some subjective references about how he sounds, imagine a mix of Robert Lowe (Solitude Aeturnus), J.D. Kimball (R.I.P. - Omen) and Harry Conklin (Jag Panzer). Aside from his vocal work, Banick’s written lyrics are also excellent, with their content ranging from personal experiences to real-world perennial quests.

Banick’s vocals would not sound as impressive, were it not for the rest of the Argus players. Although the doom metal elements – that made Boldly Stride The Doomed an album of excellent character – have been consciously pushed in the rear, the music sounds fairly diverse and most importantly, fresh. The band takes a calculated risk and chooses its weapons almost exclusively from the classic metal arsenal. The Iron Maiden-drive twin guitar leads are frequent, and the galloping/“marching” song tempos are the one and absolute law throughout the whole album (save for the song “The Coward's Path”, the only liaison to the band’s past heavy/doom metal affairs). Although the above descriptions are frequently used nowadays for beautifying really bland old school metal records as well, here the day is saved by the band’s apt musicianship, and its admirable effort in shuffling the cards of the rather restrained classic metal deck as much as possible. A special reference is due to the excellent lead guitars, that seem to have drawn inspiration even from extreme metal bands (see Symbolic-era Death), and to the mind bending artwork of Brad Moore, an associate of the band since the debut album.

Since their humble beginnings, Argus proved that they were a band to look upon and Beyond The Martyrs further solidifies that conviction. Those who were enticed by the dual, adventurous heavy/doom nature of the previous album may be slightly disappointed by the new album (the author of this review is one of them), but this assertion is highly dependent on the listener's degree of affinity towards doom metal and the heavy/doom crossover that Argus proposed in Boldly Stride The Doomed. Subjective preferences aside, Argus are one of the best old school metal outfits out there and in a fair world, US/European tour and festivities organizers should come knocking at their door.



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user ratings (18)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 20th 2013


6151 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Album stream: http://cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-the-martyrs

The two previous Argus albums are streaming at the band's website:
http://www.argusmetal.com/music/





Many thanks are due to Trey Spencer for letting me in the know about this band.

Constructive criticism is most welcome.

Digging: Sumerlands - The Guardian (demo)

Willie
Moderator
September 20th 2013


16019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

These guys were surprisingly good. I'm glad you checked them out and liked them enough for a review.

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 20th 2013


6151 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

@ThirtySixChambers

I tend to add bands to the sputnik database quite often, and during the last few weeks I caught myself adding a number of bands from your area, whose name I can't recall right now. Penance are from Pittsburgh too, Sinister Realm are from Allentown but they file under the same state, Molasses Barge are a project of local musicians with Argus singer Brian Balich, the list can go on.

Check these links:
http://www.heavyblogisheavy.com/2012/10/05/pittsburgh-metal-bands-you-need-to-listen-to/
http://www.globaldomination.se/reviews/local-domination-pittsburgh-pa


@Willie

Indeed they are a very good traditional metal band. They will surely be loved in my country Greece, because every Greek fan is an old school metal diehard deep inside. I was about to start writing for another album, when you mentioned Argus. As for the reviewing thing; ideally, albums should be reviewed without being biased by a band's merit, but as you rightfully imply, there is not enough "free" time to listen to and adequately cover everything.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
September 20th 2013


19798 Comments


this sounds cool nice review. sweet album art too

Digging: Yellowcard - Lift a Sail

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 20th 2013


6151 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Check the two songs Atari - and everyone else, of course - they'll make you up the horns m/.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
September 20th 2013


19798 Comments


will do man, i'll let you know what i think.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
September 20th 2013


19798 Comments


those are some damn melodic guitars. can't say i dig the vocals as much though

Gyromania
September 20th 2013


15793 Comments


looked at the band name and album art and knew this was your review lol

Digging: Lantlos - .neon

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 21st 2013


7397 Comments


Great review, V. I dig these two tracks that are streaming. For more quality heavy metal, check out the new Satan album.

Digging: Lo-Pan - Colossus

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 21st 2013


6151 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

@Gyromania

Really? haha



@greg84

I have heard and read good things about the new Satan album, will check it eventually.

PortalofPerfection
September 21st 2013


507 Comments


Fantastic review Voivod, good to see you still hangin around bangin out quality write-ups :-) you were one of the few people that really got into Cherno (KYPCK) when I wrote that stupidly long review for it back in the day, will always remember you for that.

This sounds very interesting, will definitely check it soon. When I saw the album cover I was sure this was gonna be from like 1995 lol

Digging: Darkest Era - Severance

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2013


6151 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

The debut KYPCK album is awesome, the second is a few steps below the debut, but it's good too.

PortalofPerfection
September 24th 2013


507 Comments


I feel the opposite actually, I think their songwriting really improved (Chuzhoi and Razryv in
particular are so well put together), their drum patterns are much more interesting, vocals are
better. And Tovarishcham is the best song they've done.

Anyway, love the production on this, gritty but not muffled, the instruments sound rough but still
clear, very cool.

manosg
September 24th 2013


6141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent write up and I must admit that the songs are very good. Gotta love the Maiden influences.

Digging: John Coltrane - Ballads

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
September 24th 2013


19798 Comments


catchy stuff. i want to hear the rest of the album

manosg
September 24th 2013


6141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent recommendations too. Omen is highly recommended to the fans of epic metal.

Nagrarok
September 26th 2013


8256 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review Voivod. This definitely seems like something I would enjoy.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 26th 2013


6151 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Without a doubt, the band is solid Nag.

Check the two new songs in the bandcamp link and if you have time, check the streams for the two previous Argus at their website, especially that for Boldly Stride The Doomed.

Nagrarok
September 26th 2013


8256 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

My usual habit is to just check out the album as a whole ;)

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 26th 2013


6151 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Fair enough. As I wrote in my introductory post, the bandcamp link will become a full album stream eventually.



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