metal has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1970s with bands such as Black Sabbath
introducing their blues-infused brand of heavy and dark rock. Argus
, hailing from USA brings listeners a modern take on traditional doom metal, with their sophomore full length effort, Boldly Stride the Doomed
The album starts off with Abandoning the Gates
of Byzantium, an acoustic guitar instrumental, plucking out sorrowful notes, laying down the theme for the album. A Curse
on the World however wastes no time in displaying the band's brand of doom/heavy metal to the listener, with the introduction riff almost reminiscent of songs out of Iron Maiden's classic era, backed by a strong bass line that will stay throughout the album. Vocalist Butch Balich soon comes into the picture, while not extremely high in his vocal range, is sufficiently powerful and impact-full, leaving an impression on the listener.
The band also constantly brings in unique influences, such as the odd and ever-changing time signature on the intro of the song Wolves of Dusk
, before breaking into a similarly technically complex guitar riff, reminding listeners more of technical bands such as Meshuggah
instead of the genre that the band is supposedly playing. The chugging main riffs thereafter instantly brings about comparison with the Iron Maiden classic, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
. It is also on this song where the epic-sounding guitar solo in the middle of the track reminds listener of bands such as Dream Theater
, minus the atmosphere that the latter like to indulge in.
Also, the guitar on the album, while trying to display the traditional doom style, at times almost reek of Eastern influences (think Egyptian), such as the guitar solo on A Curse
on the World and also on the intro riffs of The Ladder. The lead guitar on Durendal once again brings back the reference to Iron Maiden's final instrumental track, Losfer Words (Big 'Orra) before introducing some slight folk influences in the song. The piano is also rarely used on the album, but when its presence is heard, it certainly adds a nice melancholic touch to the music, such as on 42-7-29. The epic 11 minute track Pieces of Your Smile is perhaps the slowest and most doom-ish track on the album, evoking a deep stirring of emotions in the listener as the song progresses. This mixture of influences isn't a bad thing though as it certainly brings in a fresh sound to the band's music. The album ends off with the same acoustic guitar line as the intro, only this time with the presence of drums and mournful lead electric guitar to signify the end of the album.
While it is understandable that the band attempts to let each individual member have their personal air time on the songs, it could get slightly irritating at times, especially in the bass department. While generally the high presence of the bass certainly is enjoyable, bringing back to mind classic bands such as Black Sabbath
with the punchy bass, songs such as Wolves of Dusk
the bass starts to sound slightly confused and confusing on the part of the listener, affecting the experience slightly.
While the mix of all the different classic influences in Argus
' album might put doom metal purists off, but this has certainly worked well with me, considering that the influences that are put into the music come from some of my all-time favourite bands. Certainly an album to check out if one is looking for something fresh.