Review & Full Album Premiere: Argus, From Fields of Fire

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

argus-from-fields-of-fire

[Click play above to stream From Fields of Fire by Argus in its entirety. Album is out Sept. 8 via Cruz del Sur Music.]

Even before they get to the sweeping guitar triumph of “216,” Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania metallers Argus have long since secured their victory on From Fields of Fire, their fourth long-player and third for Cruz del Sur Music. Earlier wins come via the striking post-intro salvo of “Devils of Your Time” and “As a Thousand Thieves,” which take flight from the subdued beginning “Into the Fields of Fire” gives to the proceedings and never stop to look back. The five-piece are now a decade removed from their first demo and eight years on from making their self-titled debut (review here) through Shadow Kingdom, and after blending doom, power, classic and progressive metals across that record, 2011’s Boldly Stride the Doomed (discussed here) and 2013’s Beyond the Martyrs (review here) which followed, they’ve never come through quite so stately as they do in the nine tracks and 55 minutes of From Fields of Fire.

Joining vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich (ex-Penance, also Arduini / Balich), guitarist Jason Mucio and drummer Kevin Latchaw are new guitarist Dave Watson (who also produced) and bassist Justin Campbell, and whether it’s the fist-pump hook of “You are the Curse” (video posted here) or the suitably reddened Brad Moore cover art out front, From Fields of Fire does not fix what was never broken in the band’s sound, instead bringing a new degree of refinement and poise to their metallic sonic brew, righteously oldschool and every bit living up to the cliché of “firing on all cylinders” — one can listen to just about any of these tracks and find it driven equally by the guitar, bass, drums and vocals. That balance, toyed with here and there as Balich pushes his powerful voice on “As a Thousand Thieves” and the guitars match step for leads as the 11-minute “Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors” draws to its finish, stands among the most effective elements of From Fields of Fire, and taken as a consideration in kind with the level of songcraft displayed throughout, the album unmistakably makes its case for Argus to stand among the US’ most underrated classic metal bands.

It’s not necessarily that Argus are doing anything so revolutionary in tracks like the aforementioned “216” or the later “Hour of Longing” and “No Right to Grieve” as relates to their past work. While they started out more tipped toward the doomly end of the spectrum and have since come around to follow impulses less hindered by tempo — to wit, the windmill-headbang worthy chug of “Devils of Your Time” and the forward thrust in the verses of “Hour of Longing” so effectively pushed by Campbell‘s bass — From Fields of Fire is more a continuation of their ongoing growth than a departure of sorts from what they’ve done before. Again, their sound wasn’t broken. Considering their longest break between full-lengths prior to the four years that split Beyond the Martyrs and From Fields of Fire was half that duration — albums in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2017 — it’s entirely possible these songs have been worked on longer, tightened more over time, and if that’s the case, it’s to their benefit, but the production value brought to the lumbering “No Right to Grieve,” which immediately precedes the closing outro “From the Fields of Fire,” and the shimmer it gives to the lead work on “Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors,” “As a Thousand Thieves” — and really all the rest included — isn’t to be understated.

With Watson at the helm, Argus hone a brisk, sharp and crisp feel excellently suited to the spaciousness such an epic feel requires. That is, in rawer form, the already-noted instrumental opening of “216” might fall flat, but because it comes through so clearly and because there’s room for a volume swell and that lead layer at just the right moment (looking at you, two-minute mark), Argus come across as positively masterful even before Balich serves yet another reminder of just how much he brings to the band in presence, arrangement and delivery. As metal frontmen go, he has the precision of a power metaller and the guttural passion of a doomer, and though I wouldn’t take anything away from his past work, it’s easy to argue that From Fields of Fire finds him just as much at the top of his game as it does the rest of the band around him.

And ultimately, the story of Argus‘ fourth LP is what was said at the outset: a triumph. From the production to the performances to the arrangements and the structures that serve as their foundation, to moments like the fluid shift between grandiose verse/chorus interplay and the instrumental building midsection of “Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors” to the way “Into Fields of Fire” mounts tension to lead the way for “Devils of Your Time” and the way the acoustic first half of “From the Fields of Fire” fades out to let the album wrap with a darker wash of noise, every minute, every part, brims with purpose, even if that purpose is to convey a turn of mood or shift between one tempo and another. From Fields of Fire underscores Argus‘ particular style, and while one can point to certain aspects of it and hear SabbathPriestMaiden, etc., there’s never any point at which they lose sight of sounding most of all like themselves.

In this way, they bring a sense of vitality to the classic metal at their foundation while also keeping the tonal heft in Campbell‘s bass and the guitars of Watson and Mucio to still carry a doomed feel along with them that comes to an emotional head with “No Right to Grieve.” That track, as the last in a series of seven one-int0-the-next epics, arrives at perhaps the most forceful crescendo of Argus‘ career to-date, and every bit earns its position as their final statement before “From the Fields of Fire” draws the offering down to its finish. Bottom line? Argus are nothing less than a heavy metal treasure. With class and grace they find a position for themselves between various subgenres that plays to familiar styles while carving out their own identity through memorable hooks, breathtaking execution and an unmitigated will to move forward creatively from release to release. Four years might’ve been a long wait for From Fields of Fire, but like the best of the classics, no question this one will stand the test of time.

Argus, “You are the Curse” lyric video

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Argus on Bandcamp

Cruz del Sur Music website

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Argus Post “You are the Curse” Lyric Video; European Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

argus

Let me say this as plainly as possible: If you’re not looking forward to Argus‘ new album, you’re fucking up. From Fields of Fire is out Sept. 8 via Cruz del Sur Music. Write it down so you remember.

Granted, that seems like such a hyperbole-happy-dipshit-blogger way of putting it, but it’s pretty true to the urgency I feel about the subject, and if it sounds like I’m being inadvertently critical of your taste — not everybody’s into doom-tinged classic metal with a flair for the epic, and I get that — I apologize, but rest assured I’m coming from a place of not wanting you to miss out. Not trying to be a jerk. Not trying to overstate the case. Frankly, I don’t need to; the Pittsburgh five-piece make their own argument excellently across the 55-minute From Fields of Fire without any help from the likes of me. I’m just saying that whether or not you’ve ever checked out Argus before, their fourth long-player — out Sept. 8 — deserves a fair shot. Give it one.

To give a first public sampling of what’s to come with From Fields of Fire, the band have a new lyric video posted for the centerpiece of the tracklisting and presumed side A closer (assuming this all fits onto one platter, which I’m not actually sure it does) “You are the Curse.” Following suit from post-intro opener “Devils of Your Time,” it’s a strong hook delivered with due fervency, and as it immediately precedes the 11-minute sprawl of “Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors” on the record, which is out Sept. 8, it’s an excellent showcase for the level of songcraft shown across the album as well as the crispness of the production through which that songcraft arrives.

Argus will celebrate the release of From Fields of Fire — it’s Sept. 8; have I mentioned that? — by launching a string of newly-announced tour dates in Austria, Switzerland and Germany that same day. The run will be alongside High Spirits and culminates at Storm Crusher fest in Germany, where Argus will share the stage with ExciterTygers of Pan TangSulphur Aeon and many others.

Tour specifics and more info from the PR wire follow the video below. Enjoy:

Argus, “You are the Curse” lyric video

‘YOU ARE THE CURSE’, taken from ARGUS’ album “From Fields Of Fire”.

Comments vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich: “‘You Are The Curse’ was the first song we wrote for From Fields Of Fire. Dave [Watson, guitar] brought it in and it immediately fit. I knew we had exciting things coming for the album when it came together. It’s classic ARGUS and a good song to introduce From Fields of Fire to our friends worldwide. It’s an up-tempo, rhythmically aggressive but melodic song shot through with dark undertones. Lyrically, this song deals with the idea that sometimes we need look no further than ourselves for why things go wrong in our lives…as you sow so shall you reap. It’s been a live mainstay for about a year-and-a-half and one we expect to play often.”

VIDEO CONCEPT AND MAKING by YOD MULTIMEDIA: facebook.com/yodmultimedia

“From Fields Of Fire” out on SEP 8, 2017 via Cruz Del Sur Music.

Available in the following formats:

– COMPACT DISC with 12-PAGE BOOKLET: http://tinyurl.com/ycssx53j
– REGULAR BLACK / LIMITED RED/WHITE SPLATTER DOUBLE LP EDITION featuring 4 BONUS TRACKS | A2 POSTER | INSERT | DOWNLOAD CARD http://tinyurl.com/y9ra32xc
– DIGITAL

To coincide with the release of From Fields Of Fire, ARGUS is embarking on a nine-date European tour with Chicago high-energy rock heroes HIGH SPIRITS. The tour kicks off September 8 in Dornbirn, Austria, culminating with their September 16 appearance at the Storm Crusher festival in Püchersreuth, Germany.

09/08: Dornbirn, AT,- Schlachthaus
09/09: Olte, CH – Coq D’Or
09/10: Münster, DE – Sputnikhalle
09/11: Marburg, DE – Trauma G-Werk
09/12 Oldenburg, DE – MTS Record Store
09/13 Hamburg, DE – Bambi Galore
09/14 Berlin, DE – Urban Spree
09/15 Weimar, DE – Kasseturm
09/16 Pückersreuth, DE – Storm Crusher Festival

Musicians:
Brian ‘Butch’ Balich – Vocals
Dave Watson – Guitars
Jason Mucio – Guitars
Justin Campbell – Bass
Kevin Latchaw – Drums

Argus on Thee Facebooks

Argus on Bandcamp

Cruz del Sur Music website

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Hands of Orlac & The Wandering Midget Split Due Sept. 8

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Those who seek the maximum bizarro quotient in their doom likely don’t need me to tell them that the pairing of Italy’s Hands of Orlac and Finland’s The Wandering Midget — who haven’t had a release out in a what-happened-to-the-last five years, apparently — is good news. Cruz del Sur will boldly stand behind the two outfits as they join together for a new split out Sept. 8 that brings four cuts from the former and one extended piece from the wildly politically-incorrectly-monikered latter, and it’s sure to be a dark-hued freakout of a high order both in terms of quality and chemical ingestion. Both bands will be making their debut on the label with this release.

Gonna hope to have more to come on this one as we get closer to Sept. 8, but here’s cover art and the basic social medias announcement of its impending arrival. Hooray for getting weird:

hands-of-orlac-the-wandering-midget-split

HANDS OF ORLAC / THE WANDERING MIDGET Split Release out in September

The worlds of occult metal and colossal doom collide on the HANDS OF ORLAC and THE WANDERING MIDGET split, set for a September 8 release via Cruz Del Sur Music.

Featuring four contributions from Italian/Swedish occult metal troupe HANDS OF ORLAC and one 18-minute epic from Finnish doomsters THE WANDERING MIDGET, the split finds two disparate, unique bands offering a glimpse into their dark and mysterious worlds.

Formed in 2009, HANDS OF ORLAC has gradually evolved from its early doom forays into a horror soundtrack-infused outfit, heavily inspired by the works of BALLETTO DI BRONZO, GOBLIN, BIGLIETTO PER L’INFERNO and ALPHATAURUS. The band’s four offerings on the split were recorded by veteran producer Berno Paulsson at the renowned Berno Studio in Malmö, Sweden. With the mystical vocal and exotic flute work of G. leading the way, HANDS OF ORLAC offer up an invigorating take on occult metal, with both the progressive “Curse Of The Human Skull” and straightforward “From Beyond The Stars” displaying a degree of balance that is emblematic of a band capable of pushing boundaries without falling prey to genre clichés.

THE WANDERING MIDGET hail from Lappeenranta, Finland and were formed in 2005. The band’s 2008 “The Serpent Coven” and 2012 “From The Meadows Of Opium Dreams” LPs were riff-intense bodies of work, channeling the true spirit of doom forerunners BLACK SABBATH and CANDLEMASS. THE WANDERING MIDGET’s contribution to the split, “Where We March The Vultures Follow”, is their first sonic offering in over five years, and is a true stroke of monolithic doom, laced with anguished, slow-churned melodies and the animated vocals of Samuel Wormius.

The split is the first release on Cruz Del Sur Music for HANDS OF ORLAC and THE WANDERING MIDGET, representing the label’s continued focus on unearthing the underground’s most challenging bands. The sounds of occult metal and epic doom joined together have never sounded so foreboding.

Split track listing:
1. HANDS OF ORLAC – Curse Of The Human Skull
2. HANDS OF ORLAC – Per Aspera
3. HANDS OF ORLAC – From Beyond The Stars
4. HANDS OF ORLAC – Ad Astra
5. THE WANDERING MIDGET – Where We March The Vultures Follow

HANDS OF ORLAC line-up:
G. – Vocals / Flute
A. – Guitars
F. – Bass
J.– Drums

THE WANDERING MIDGET line-up:
Samuel Wormius – Fire Lungs & Tornados
Thomas Grenier – Storm of Locusts
Jonathan Sprenger – Earthquake Sorcery

http://handsofevil.blogspot.com/
handsoforlac.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/TheWanderingMidget
https://thewanderingmidget.bandcamp.com/
www.cruzdelsurmusic.com
cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/cruzdelsurmusic
twitter.com/CruzDelSurMusic

Hands of Orlac, “Witches Hammer”

The Wandering Midget, From the Meadows of Opium Dreams (2012)

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Slough Feg Announce The New Organon Recording; Re-Sign to Cruz del Sur

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Maybe that’s just how long a Slough Feg record takes to absorb, but it’s kind of surprising to think it’s been three years since the perennial San Fran-based NWOBHM-via-Celtic-folk-via-classic-rock-via-you-don’t-know-what-the-hell-to-call-it-so-just-call-it-progressive outfit released Digital Resistance (review here). That album was their ninth as well as their debut release for Metal Blade Records, and along with the news that the Mike Scalzi-led troupe either will begin or have begun this month to record their 10th long-player, to be titled The New Organon, comes word that said offering will be issued via Cruz del Sur, with whom the band was previously signed for three highlight LPs between 2005 and 2009.

Too strange for the bigger imprint to know what to do with? Possible. Or possible it was just a one record deal. In any case, it was four years from 2010’s The Animal Spirits (review here), which was released by Profound Lore, to Digital Resistance, so even if The New Organon doesn’t show up until 2018, that would at least be on pace. Good food takes time, even if you don’t realize time has passed.

From the PR wire:

slough feg

SLOUGH FEG Rejoins CRUZ DEL SUR MUSIC

San Francisco true metal troubadours SLOUGH FEG have rejoined Italy’s Cruz Del Sur Music, the label behind the band’s heralded “Atavism” (2005), “Hardworlder” (2007) and “Ape Uprising!” (2009) albums.

Comments vocalist/guitarist Mike Scalzi: “We are happy to announce that we are back with Cruz Del Sur Music and will begin recording a new album in July! We believe that a smaller ’boutique’ label such as Cruz Del Sur is appropriate for our sound, fanbase and work ethic, and look forward to working with Enrico [Leccese] and company again.”

“I am extremely excited to have SLOUGH FEG back on Cruz Del Sur!” says Leccese. “It is always nice when bands you like track you down. It’s even more special when it’s someone you’ve worked with for about ten years and established a friendly relationship. It’s a recognition that we were doing something right in the past. I can’t wait to hear the new album and share it with the metal world.”

Continues Scalzi: “The new album will be called ‘The New Organon’, and the songs are somewhat of a return to the heavier side of our sound: more rustic, heavy, churning, medieval/Celtic and proggy sounding riffs, as opposed to the more ’70s rock sounds of more recent albums. But don’t worry: there will be a couple of rockers as well! We will also have some newer, experimental songwriting styles, mixing heavy rock and metal with the melodic sounds of ’50s and ’60s pop. Imagine DEL SHANNON singing for BLUE CHEER! After all, it wouldn’t be a SLOUGH FEG album without some bizarre surprises!

So, journey we more into the vaults of the Voi-vaudevillian…the Epic-cure for all Epicurean Angst and Ennui. The Celtic cacophony continues!”

www.facebook.com/sloughfegofficial
twitter.com/slough_feg
www.cruzdelsurmusic.com
cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/cruzdelsurmusic
twitter.com/CruzDelSurMusic

Slough Feg, Live at Muskelrock 2016

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Six Dumb Questions with Arduini / Balich

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on July 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

arduini balich

When I finally got to sit with it and give the respectful listen it deserved, I had the most powerful oh-shit-this-is-the-real-deal moment with Arduini / Balich‘s Dawn of Ages (review here) that I’ve have with any single record in 2017. Released by Cruz del Sur Music, the 78-minute full-length is rife with an energy born of classic and progressive metal, and while it earns immediate interest owing to the pedigree of its core duo of vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich (formerly of Penance, currently of Argus) and guitarist/composer Victor Arduini (formerly of Fates Warning and Freedoms Reign, currently of Entierro), it’s the poise and righteousness of the six originals and three bonus covers that make Dawn of Ages stand among 2017’s finest debuts and finest albums overall.

Granted, it’s an undertaking with the aforementioned 2LP runtime — even without the covers it tops an hour — but to listen to extended pieces like “The Wraith” (13:44) and “Beyond the Barricade” (17:27), one finds Arduini / Balich capturing the essence of a place somewhere between progressive and power metal, the Connecticut-based guitarist and Pennsylvania-based vocalist, as well as drummer Chris Judge (a bandmate of Arduini‘s in Freedoms Reign), bringing out highlight performances as crisp in their execution as they are complex in their construction as they are worthy of a neck-breaking headbang session on “Forever Fade.” There are flashes of traditional doom throughout “Into Exile,” opener “The Fallen” and the brief instrumental “The Gates of Acheron,” but while that darker side of the metal spectrum is acknowledged in a take on Black Sabbath‘s “After All (The Dead),” that cover is no less an appropriate inclusion on Dawn of Ages than Uriah Heep‘s “Sunrise” or The Beau Brummels‘ “Wolf of Velvet Fortune” in emphasizing the vast swath of ground Arduini / Balich traverse across their original material.

In terms of composition, recording process and the potential for Arduini / Balich to continue forward as an ongoing project, there was a lot of fodder for discussion here, and fortunately, Victor Arduini was happy to oblige, even going to far as to address each of the questions-within-the-questions individually, taking on the whole thing and leaving nothing out. That effort is deeply appreciated, to be sure, and as I dig in once again to Dawn of Ages (which you’ll also find streaming at the bottom of this post) for what I suspect won’t nearly be the last time, it’s great to know that at some point in the future there just might be a sophomore outing to come.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

arduini balich dawn of ages

Six Dumb Questions with Arduini / Balich

Tell me how the Arduini / Balich project got started. What was the impetus behind writing these songs? How did they come together and when did Butch and Chris become involved? What was it you wanted to do differently coming off of Freedoms Reign?

I began writing new music towards the end of Freedoms Reign’s promotional tour. I was already moving on emotionally from what that band was about and had my “10 seconds as a singer” out of my system. I just wanted to get back to playing guitar and focusing on creating some riffs that would challenge me as a guitarist and musician. I told the guys I was going to do a solo-project where I could allow myself the freedom to produce an album where I could be free to let my ideas breath without any restrictions.

It was all an emotional connection to the music I was getting back into after some years away from my roots in Fates. With social media, YouTube and internet radio, I was like a sponge soaking up so much new music that I didn’t know existed. I was becoming inspired by learning there were so many great bands and artists out there still putting out some very cool music.

I would come up with riffs at home and present them to Chris to see how he would interpret them. Usually we would jam on them and other ideas would naturally follow. We spent about six months working stuff out and Chris was able to put down his drum tracks to the basic structure. I spent the next year writing and recording all the guitars and creating layer upon layer of music that transformed the songs into what became the music for the album. I found it difficult to find a singer who had the right voice and wound be into the music I created.

I originally was going to have a singer from Brazil but found it too difficult to work out. Brian and I knew each other from doing some shows together and he literally reached out the day I let the other singer go. We talked and he was really into the music I shared. It took some time with our schedules but Brian took the songs one by one and wrote some incredible lyrics along with some very emotional and power vocals which I think are the best he’s ever done.

I wanted to create music that spoke from my soul without worry or restrictions to style, length or sound. I knew it would be heavy and dark and as Chris and I worked them out it became progressive as well with the different time signatures and complexity of the arrangements.

What was the timeline like from start to finish on Dawn of Ages? How long were you recording the songs and how were they pieced together? How much did the material develop in the studio as opposed to being plotted out beforehand?

It took a little over two years from start to finish. There were times it had to be put on hold which helped me relook at things and make adjustments along the way. I don’t think it would have been as complex if it was completed sooner as I ended up adding a lot of ideas when there was nothing else to do with it.

The demo phase lasted about six months where I’d take home the ideas from rehearsal and piece things together until we had a rough structure from start to finish. Chris did his drum tracks pretty quickly but from there it was over a year of layering various sounds, solos, etc. “The Wraith”’s drums are actually from a rehearsal which I was able to piece together and utilize for the final album.

[The material developed in the studio] Quite a bit. I mean I’d create riffs which became the structure but from there I had no idea of all the layers that would end up over it. There were many nights of just messing around and every so often some magic would come out of it. Some stuff I still don’t know where it came from. I guess that’s a blessing from being in a creative moment which I’ve always admired from The Beatles in their later recordings.

Talk about self-producing in this new context. How was your working relationship with Nick Bellmore? How did it compare to your time in the studio with Entierro or Freedoms Reign?

To me [self-producing] was what made the album so personal. I took the time to work out the arrangements and trying out different sounds, approaches and ideas get what was in my head onto tape. I love working in my studio and would try out all kinds of mixes and reevaluating until I was happy. Producing your own music works if you have a strong idea of what you want from it and you don’t care to please anyone but yourself. Making music is a passion and having the ability to put together such a project was very special and rewarding to me.

Nick is so good at what he does. As a drummer he helped me get some great tracks down and always could create the sound and mood I was looking for. I did just about all the guitars at home including the sounds I wanted but he always was there as an extra ear and helped me ensure it was always sonically as good as it could be. He is just a great guy and teaches me along the way which ends up helping us both do bigger and better things together. Nick actually played drums on “Forever Fade,” and two of the bonus tracks, “Sunrise” and “After All (The Dead).”

When I recorded with FR it was the typical format of everyone laying down their individual tracks as they had worked them out for rehearsal. With A/B, it was mostly experimentation with no restrictions. I could make any decision without running it by others which is why one is called a band and this was a true solo-project.

Tell me about writing “Beyond the Barricade.”

That song took on a life of its own. There was no previous idea of writing such an epic. I just took the song piece by piece and it seemed to build upon itself at rehearsal. Week after week we would jam what we had and new riffs and ideas flowed which we always got onto tape. I’d take it home and work stuff out maybe writing something new and when we played again it just kept evolving. The cool thing is we were able to play the basic structure from start to finish. It was just all the layers and sounds which took it to another level. Again I was at a creative peak during that time and it was easier than you’d think.

What was behind the decision to include the three covers, and how were each of those tracks chosen?

We had the opportunity to do a 2LP vinyl but when laying it out we really had three sides so Brian and I started throwing ideas out to cover. “Sunrise” was something I wanted to do since I saw Brian earlier in the year and heard him sing to it in his car. “After All” was something I always felt Brian could nail and I love playing Sabbath. Brian brought “Wolf” to my attention and I was mesmerized by its beauty and ode to the trippy ‘60s vibe. It was one of the toughest songs to interpret and record.

Will you do more as Arduini / Balich? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

I think so. Brian and I are very proud of this album and thoroughly enjoyed the process of making it and working together which is first and foremost why we do it. We’ve discussed doing the next one which I hope will happen but there’s no timeline. What I enjoyed most about doing this one was the natural creativity that inspired it and the joy of its process. I became so emotionally attached to it and I need some time to move away for a bit. I just don’t want to force anything and would like to come back to it all when I feel there’s something new to say. Most likely by early next year I’ll messing around and we’ll go from there.

I just want to say to anyone who’s checked it out how thankful I am that you did so and appreciate your support and interest. We were both pretty floored by the response and it’s cool when someone breaks it down and you can tell they really listened and got what we were trying to achieve. Thanks so much.

Arduini / Balich, Dawn of Ages (2017)

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Arduini / Balich on Bandcamp

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Argus Set Sept. 8 Release for From Fields of Fire

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

argus

Checking in from the category of ‘Oh Hell Yes’ comes word down the PR wire of a fourth full-length from Argus due this September. Clocking in at a fistpumping, headbang-worthy 55 minutes, From Fields of Fire will see issue like its predecessors, 2013’s Beyond the Martyrs (review here) and 2011’s Boldly Stride the Doomed (discussed here), via Cruz del Sur Music — their 2009 self-titled debut (review here) was on Shadow Kingdom — and its sonics are no less epic than the Brad Moore cover art adorning the front of it. This band rules. Rules. Flat out. Fucking awesome.

Word about the record just came in, so I’ll hope to have much more on the topic before we get to September, but in the meantime, you can dig into the following and I highly suggest you do:

argus from fields of fire

ARGUS Return with ‘From Fields of Fire’ Sept 8 on Cruz Del Sur Music

Four years after the release Beyond the Martyrs, mighty U.S. Heavy Metal torchbearers ARGUS will release From Fields of Fire September 8 on Cruz Del Sur Music! From Fields of Fire is the defining moment from a band that has delivered the goods album after album. It is the highlight of their career to date and it is an album that will be seen as a highlight in heavy metal circles, not just this year, but for years to come.

ARGUS no longer needs an introduction. Three studio albums, three EPs, several European tours and US showcases and festival appearances have established the name of ARGUS as an established force in the Heavy Metal Universe. Yet, ARGUS is a band not content to rest on its achievements. This is a band that is still hungry – a growing and strengthening animal that shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Judging from the outside almost nothing seems to have changed this time around on From Fields of Fire. Another exceptional and visionary cover provided by Brad Moore, and an Intro / Outro on the track list, another of ARGUS’ trademarks through all their records. But it’s when you get on the inside, when you bite this album below the flesh to the bones that you realize ARGUS has not only been able to maintain their uniqueness, but the band has raised the quality of their creativity and therefore raised the stakes for their future. There’s a definite step ahead in terms of production and songwriting, which has reached the highest quality with the addition of producer and guitarist Dave Watson and bassist Justin Campbell in the line-up. The tense opener “Devils of Your Time” and the emotional closing “No Right to Grieve” are the songs that most clearly express their courage and confidence of exploring unusual sonic paths.

But it’s the entire album that confirms that ARGUS is probably the best band nowadays to pay homage to traditional heavy metal without merely aping their heroes. This is true metal with doom elements, two worlds that often touch, but have never been as well synthesized into a single, organic sound as they are here. From Fields of Fire features some real Heavy Metal gems: the infectious melodies and guitar-drive of “You Are the Curse” and “216,” the moody “Hour of Longing,” the galloping sound of “As a Thousand Thieves” and the borderline epic, ever-shifting majesty of “Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors.”

From Fields of Fire is an album that whose parts are as strong as the whole, where each track is a highlight; yet, it is also an album that demands to be absorbed as a whole where the music, lyrics and atmosphere reach deep inside of you and take root as your appreciation of this band and this music grows to be a part of you.

Track Listing:
1. Into The Fields Of Fire
2. Devils Of Your Time
3. As A Thousand Thieves
4. 216
5. You Are The Curse
6. Infinite Lives Infinite Doors
7. Hour Of Longing
8. No Right To Grieve
9. From the Fields of Fire

Argus is:
Brian ‘Butch’ Balich – Vocals
Dave Watson – Guitars
Jason Mucio – Guitars
Justin Campbell – Bass
Kevin Latchaw – Drums

www.facebook.com/argusmetal
argusmetal.bandcamp.com
www.cruzdelsurmusic.com
cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/cruzdelsurmusic
Twitter.com/CruzDelSurMusic

Argus, Beyond the Martyrs (2013)

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: High Brian, Arduini/Balich, Audion, Grey Gallows, Smoke Mountain

Posted in Radio on June 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

If you’re a regular denizen of The Obelisk Radio, you’ve probably already guessed by the massively expanded playlist that we’re back on the main server at this point. It’s been months on the backup, and while anyone is still reading, let me just say out loud how much I owe to the hard work Slevin has put into the back end of making this thing happen. From a huge file-recovery operation to yesterday turning the thing back on after I moved a bunch of files and screwed it up yet again, the dude is just unbelievable. Seriously. This site is coming up on nine years old, and Slevin has made it happen every step of the way from a technical standpoint. I am in awe of his prowess and generosity of spirit.

So now that we’re back up and running at full capacity, the only thing to do is to keep building it going forward. And here we are.

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 13, 2017:

High Brian, Hi Brain

high-brian-hi-brain

Though they start out with the post-Queens of the Stone Age shuffle of “Liquid Sweet,” the crux of Austrian rockers High Brian‘s playfully titled debut long-player, Hi Brain, lies in classic psychedelia, unafraid to directly make a Beatles reference or two in “Aquanautic Smoke” or name a track after Jefferson Airplane‘s Surrealistic Pillow. That song, “Surrealistic Pillow,” turns out to be one of Hi Brain‘s catchiest, but hooks about throughout the nodding “All but Certainty” and the later, Stubb-style raucousness of the pair “The Conversion” and “Blood Money” as well, while centerpiece “All the Other Faces” and the aforementioned “Aquanautic Smoke” engage effects-laden drift and poised fluidity, resulting in an overarching sense of within-genre aesthetic variety that moves easily throughout the vinyl-ready 44-minute offering. They close with the molten roll of “Time,” their longest cut at 5:52 and a bolder melodic take, as if to signal a potential direction of their growth on their way out. There are plenty of encouraging signs before they get there, certainly, but hey, one more never hurt. An impressive introduction to a project that one hopes continues to develop and expand its approach.

High Brian website

Stone Free Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory

 

Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages

ARDUINI BALICH DAWN OF AGES

Words like “powerhouse” are invented for releases like Arduini/Balich‘s Dawn of Ages. The Cruz del Sur release brings together Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini (who also produced) and Argus vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich, and while I’ll confess that on first listen I went right to their cover of Sabbath‘s “After All (The Dead)” — fucking righteous; and there aren’t a lot of people I’d trust to take on that song or anything from the Dio era — extended pieces like “Beyond the Barricade” (17:27) and “The Wraith” (13:44) offer listeners a deep push into a heavy metal that’s progressive, powerful and doomed all at the same time, executed with a clarity and a purpose that shimmers with class and just the right balance of patience and aggression. Rest easy, traveler, for you are in the hands of masters. Rounded out by drummer Chris Judge, Arduini/Balich is what happens when heavy metal goes right, and from the doomly unfolding of opener “The Fallen” through the 2LP’s three concluding covers of Beau Brummels‘ “Wolf of Velvet Fortune,” Uriah Heep‘s “Sunrise” and the already noted Dehumanizer highlight, there isn’t one moment where they relinquish their hold on either their craft or their audience’s attention. It’s the kind of outing that might cause a last-minute revision to best-of-the-year-so-far list, to say the least of it. Not to be greedy, but I’ll take a follow-up as soon as possible. Thanks.

Arduini/Balich on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

 

Audión, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-historia-de-abraham

If the driving Motörhead-onic thrust of the title-track to Audión‘s La Historia de Abraham rings familiar, it might be because the rhythm section of the Buenos Aires trio consists of bassist Gonzalo Villagra (also vocals) and drummer Walter Broide (also backing vocals), both formerly of Los Natas. Honestly, that pedigree would probably be enough for me to get on board with the 10-track/49-minute self-released full-length, but then you get into the roll and drift of the subsequent “Llegaron Sordos” and the fluid cascade of “Colmillo Blanco,” and guitarist Dizzy Espeche makes his presence felt tonally and vocally throughout to add a new personality to whatever familiar aspects might persist. “Lesbotrans” dives into a ’70s-style swing and the blown-out “Diablo vs. Dios” follows it with the age-old question of what might happen if The Who went garage punk, but there’s flourish of psychedelia on the interlude “Para Rosita” before “El Carancho” and “Queruzalem” round out with some of La Historia de Abraham‘s weightiest impacts. I think it’s fair to say Audión have some tinge of Los Natas‘ style to them, but their first outing shows them working toward building something new from that as well, and that makes their arrival all the more welcome.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Grey Gallows, Underlord

grey-gallows-underlord

Not that it isn’t plenty malevolent on its surface, but there’s an even more extreme threat lurking beneath “Underlord,” the nine-minute opener, titular and longest track (immediate points) on the debut full-length from Phoenix, Arizona’s Grey Gallows. It doesn’t take long for that sense of extremity to manifest in a blackened sensibility that pervades both in the riffs of a song like “Belladonna” — the middle cut of the five included — or the overarching spaciousness that finds its way into the grime-coated “West of Hell,” which follows. With a depth of guitar worthy of filling one’s lungs, “West of Hell” churns in a manner faster and somewhat sludgier than the alternately nodding and atmospheric “Priestess” showed the Opoponax Records outing to be earlier, six-stringers Joe Distic and Cat weaving noted lines and crunch riffs around each other for seven densely grooved minutes amid low-end push from bassist Lee, adaptable and creative drumming from Shane and Zue Byrd‘s vocals, which hit in form no less distorted in the back half of “Priestess” than they are punker drawled in closer “Buzzard Dust.” Nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty. That’s basically what the math works out to on the 35-minute outing, but it’s worth noting that even on their first album, Grey Gallows demonstrate a ready willingness to balance various stylistic impulses off each other in such a way that’s only going to make their sound richer as they proceed. Richer, and even nastier. So be it.

Grey Gallows on Thee Facebooks

Opoponax Records webstore

 

Smoke Mountain, Smoke Mountain

smoke-mountain-smoke-mountain

The first EP from this Floridian three-piece does precisely what it’s supposed to do: introduces a newcomer band with three unpretentious tracks of dirt-fuzz riffing. The immediate vibe of opener “Demon” is early Acid King as the vocals follow the riff in classic stonery fashion, but the three songs get longer as they go and “Violent Night” proves immediately more spacious en route to the eponymous march of “Smoke Mountain.” What would probably be called a demo in a prior age, Smoke Mountain‘s Smoke Mountain makes its primary impression tonally but shows potential in its songwriting as well, and as a quick sampling of what the band are getting up to in their first stages, there’s little more one could reasonably ask of it, particularly as “Smoke Mountain” hammers home its chorus in a balance of clean vocal melody and absolutely filthy guitar, bass and drum crash. That duality, should they maintain it as they move forward into whatever might come next, can only serve them well. One to keep an eye on.

Smoke Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Mountain on Bandcamp

 

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Apostle of Solitude Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

apostle of solitude

Happy to host the announcement today bringing word that Indianapolis doomers Apostle of Solitude will head abroad shortly to tour Europe. The week-long run will be their first time going over, and they go supporting their excellent third album, Of Woe and Wounds (review here), released on Cruz del Sur Music in 2014 — so all the better for them to be getting out.

There are two festival appearances to be had. The run begins with a stop at Doom over Vienna XI on Nov. 12 where they’ll join Mourning Beloveth and others and cap with one at Hammer of Doom XI in Würzburg, Germany, where they’ll be part of a lineup on Nov. 19 that also includes The Skull, Antimatter, Witch Mountain, Universe217 and Cauchemar.

They’ll also be playing with The Skull and Witch Mountain — oh, and a little band called Saint Vitus — on Oct. 9 at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis. Hell of a going away party.

I haven’t heard much from them about a follow-up to Of Woe and Wounds, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that if they haven’t started writing for one yet, they likely would in the New Year, hopefully with a 2017 release in mind. In the meantime, I’ve yet to put that record on and not get a return on that investment, so it’s not like there’s any rush.

Poster and announcement come courtesy of the band:

apostle-of-solitude-euro-tour-2016

Apostle of Solitude Announce European Tour dates

Apostle of Solitude have announced details for a European Tour this November.

The tour begins on Saturday November 12th, and is bookended with performances at both the DOOM OVER VIENNA festival in Vienna, Austria, as well as the HAMMER OF DOOM festival in

Wurzburg, Germany. Complete tour dates are as follows:

Apostle of Solitude live:
09/24 5th Quarter Lounge Indianapolis IN w/ Destroyer of Light, Gorgantherron & Archarus
10/09 5th Quarter Lounge Indianapolis IN w/ Saint Vitus, The Skull & Witch Mountain
Saturday Nov. 12th: DOOM OVER VIENNA festival – Vienna, Austria @ Viper Room Vienna
Sunday Nov. 13th: Marburg, Germany (with Barabbas) @ Szenario
Monday Nov. 14th: Lille, France (with Barabbas) @ El Diablo – Live Rock Club
Tuesday Nov. 15th: Roeselare, Belgium (with Barabbas) @ De Verlichte Geest
Wednesday Nov. 16th: Tilburg, Netherlands (with Treurwilg) @ Little Devil Bar
Friday Nov. 18th: Szczecin, Poland @ Szczecinski Loft Kultury
Saturday Nov. 19th: HAMMER OF DOOM festival – Wurzburg, Germany @ Posthalle Wurzburg

The band’s last US performance prior to the tour will be Sunday October 9th in Indianapolis, IN at the 5th Quarter Lounge with Saint Vitus, The Skull, and Witch Mountain.

Apostle of Solitude is:
Corey Webb (drums)
Chuck Brown (guitar/vox)
Steve Janiak (guitar/vox)
Mike Naish (bass)

https://www.facebook.com/apostleofsolitude/
http://www.apostleofsolitude.com/
http://cruzdelsurmusic.com/
https://cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com/album/of-woe-and-wounds

Apostle of Solitude, “Luna” official video

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