After snatching up their previous three albums and seeing the band live, I felt like I could call myself a moderate Argus fan. The record that really sold me on the group was ‘Boldly Stride the Doomed’ as it came out as I was also discovering Revelation and Pale Divine. The main reason they initially appealed to me was because they’d been marketed as ex-Penance, though Balich was on the later-era stoner metal records from that band and they weren’t great. I was only interested in Penance because that band started as a post-Dream Death that emphasized doom metal over the thrashiness of that band’s debut. Argus’ self-titled debut and sophomore album were melodramatic doom influenced heavy metal that channeled the best of Candlemass with some of the aggression heard in early Grand Magus. They never went fully traditional doom but instead created some pretty top notch “epic heavy metal”. The third album was really the point where I kind of lost my love for Argus. There had been better doom albums by 2013 and when ‘Beyond the Martyrs’ came out it felt like a flat, kinda boring version of Solitude Aeternus or a very sad slow-motion Slough Feg. I wasn’t very enthusiastic for more Argus at all, so the four years between albums has been a bit of a relief as the band certainly didn’t change their style on ‘From Fields of Fire’.
These old school metal folks are still one of the more polished bands to rise from the retro-doom fad. The singer has improved a great deal and his prominence here shows a great deal of inspiration. Balich’s album with original Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini earlier this year must have served as inspiration here, as his voice has never sounded more majestic and capable. He is restrained for the sake of the guitar’s power, and when he does belt it out he is more carefully cheese-indulgent. With far less howling than before, my attention focused on the lead guitar work which is a quasi-return to the style of the first album. While I was disappointed by the bass guitars resignation to the background, Argus hasn’t lost that epic, almost power metal feeling. ‘From Fields of Fire’ offers a real redemption for the band after the relatively flat previous album and I’m happy they’re on the right track here. I won’t say Argus have returned as one of my favorite doom metal related bands, but this is a fantastic album.
|Released||September 8, 2017|
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