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For any band, finding and hanging on to your own voice is a sign that you'll go far. Even in the current wave of traditional doom metal, where many strive to copy Candlemass and Trouble, stands the issue of playing the game while walking your own path. Boldly Stride the Doomed (Cruz del Sur, 2011) is just the second release from Argus, but it cements how well this Pennsylvanian act has brought about its personal sound.

A key part is that arguably essential hook, the vocals. A band could have its strengths lie solely in instrumentation and still be enjoyable. Argus however, stand out because of the vocal style of Brian "Butch" Balich. At points, he soars high against heavy riffs, like Ronnie James Dio and Scott "Wino" Weinreich. At the same time, Balich grounds his voice back into a "middle way" - not as high or hard-ended as Dio, and not as meandering or gravelly as Wino. "A Curse on the World", "The Ladder", and "Boldly Stride the Doomed" are fitting examples of Balich's "middle way" during faster, louder moments; in "42-7-29" and "Pieces of Your Smile", it adapts to fit slower, drawn out passages.

In turn, this connects with another essential element: atmosphere. Boldly Stride the Doomed combines epic sweep with deep introspection. Low-key solos and crushing down-tuning meet with NWOBHM melody, bringing together depth, speed, and vocal heights.

Thematically, Argus use history-based fantasy and literature to spin stories, each largely set on a central character. Their identities aren't clear, but their emotions are; they cry out for redemption and condemn their mortal brethren. Through heavy guitars and Balich's voice, these human aspects make for an honest record.

— K. Ann Sulaiman

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"A Curse on the World"


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Amazon (CD)
Amazon (MP3)
CM Distro (CD)
Cruz del Sur (CD, shirt)

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