Franklin, Pennsylvania, merchants Argus make a positive first impression on their self-titled debut full-length, released via Shadow Kingdom Records. ?Devils, Devils,? the album?s catchy opener, rocks an old school doom that borders on Solitude Aeturnus? style of rougher epics without directly taking from it. The track turns out to be the record?s highlight alongside the later and longer ?The Damnation of John Faustus,? but Argus have plenty to offer between the two when it comes to twin-guitar riffs, able soloing and chunky doom grooves, played American style.
Penance fans will recall Argus frontman Brian ?Butch? Balich?s vocal contributions to that band?s later material, and as much as his voice is perfectly suited to the music here, it?s the guitars of Jason Mucio and Erik Johnson that lead the way for most of the tracks. ?Bending Time? and the chugging ?None Shall Know the Hour? show off their impressive chops and provide a forum for Balich to display his masterful mid-range. Argus tends to drag in parts, largely since there?s so much in this kind of old school doom that can?t possibly be original — it?s been done so well, for so long, by so many — but the five-piece unit makes the best of it, the rhythm section of bassist Andy Ramage and former Abdullah drummer Kevin Latchaw adding a welcome metallic crunch to the sound.
In repeat listening, I?ve found what works best with Argus is to take the songs in individually. That is, Argus, the album, functions most effectively in its parts than as a whole. Not to say it isn?t a cohesive work or that any single track is glaringly out of place, just that ?From Darkness Light,? which might otherwise get lost in the mash of riffs and thus lose some of its staying power, is best experienced and appreciated on its own. With so much of the underground fighting against the tide of single-ism that has dominated mainstream iEverything popular culture, Argus have debuted with a collection that works within the system and against it at once — lest we forget well-soloed closer ?The Outsider? tops out over 10 minutes. Still, the songs prove more memorable taken one at a time.
Argus is old school heaviness coupled with blue collar grit that should please denim-vesters the country over. There?s room for their songwriting to tighten up, but the feeling one gets after hearing the album is Argus are just getting started. Doom on.
Tags: Argus, Pennsylvania, Shadow Kingdom