Argus - From Fields of Fire
Cruz Del Sur Music
Power Metal with Melodic Doom Elements
9 songs (55'04")
Release year: 2017
Cruz Del Sur Music
Reviewed by Alex

I am going to try to make time this weekend to write about a couple of albums I should have covered in 2017 but didn’t. Melodic doomsters Pittsburgh area Argus are back after longer than usual break between albums and with somewhat revamped lineup (one of the founders Erik Johnson is no longer there, Dave Watson plays guitars in addition to Jason Mucio instead, and the band has a new bass player Justin Campbell). Maybe this re-shuffle caused the band to take a creative pause … or maybe the change in Argus sound direction is what is responsible for both some members exiting and From Fields of Fire to come after a significant recess.

The trend began with Beyond the Martyrs, on which I commented sort of in passing at the time, not being able to foresee that the movement from melodic doom metal with some power metal elements in the vein of Trouble and Candlemass towards power metal with some doom overtones will be complete by the time From Fields of Fire saw the light of day. Perhaps that change is what caused me to listen, but then not quite accept the album after the first few listens. So Argus rode with me in the car for about half a year, getting some periodic plays, but only recently the album clicked. Riff oriented power metal lovers, especially those who don’t mind a dark melody, not focused on thrash headbanging only or some cheesy dungeons & dragons frills, the warning is out to you. From Fields of Fire should not be missed.

Between two instrumentals, just like it was on Boldly Stride the Doomed, with Into the Fields of Fire and From the Fields of Fire serving as prologue and epilogue, rest seven solid power metal tunes filled with darker tinges and excellent musicianship. Perhaps the staccato of Devils of Your Time with its babbling bass seemed a little dry to me at first, or Brian “Butch” Balich’s high Messiah Marcolin-like voice seemed a bit of a mismatch with the song’s tempo, not sure, but something caused me to hit brakes after Devils of Your Time and then As a Thousand Thieves led off. The opening transition of As a Thousand Thieves between its melodic opening and following gallop, however, is most telling where Argus is today. While my heart still melts when I hear similar melodic doom intro to 216, the realization is fully set in that the band will be relying on muscular riffs from now on hitting its meaty stride. The riffs are awesome here though, the bass is fully prominent (You Are the Curse), and sing along choruses (216, You Are the Curse, Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors) are to die for, with Butch Balich’s voice being a perfect fit. He is now more Harry Conklin than Messiah Marcolin, perhaps with less modulation in his voice, but just the same amount of power and charisma. More on that comparison later.

From Fields of Fire is full of different kind of songs. There are short and direct blows (Devils of Your Time), aggressive and at the same time flowing Hour of Longing, which segues acoustically and perfectly into searing, heartstrings tugging ballad No Right to Grieve, and of course there is an epic, both in construction and execution, Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors. 11 minutes long, the song is not overstretched, but instead full of exquisite guitar harmonies, countless hooks and fantastic instrumental mid-song break. Doing that on other cuts is also a mark of From Fields of Fire, and something Argus carried over from earlier days.

I once heard an interview with John Schaeffer of Iced Earth, who, when his band was on Century Media, was somewhat questioning the label’s then commitment to the band. He compared Iced Earth popularity and album sales to Jag Panzer saying that Iced Earth is a sales juggernaut while Jag Panzer can play, but meander and don’t sell as many records. I can’t be certain how many From Fields of Fire copies will be sold, but Argus has moved into the spot right next to Jag Panzer with this release. Shedding some of the melodic doom origins, the band is still full of dark notes, but is a more of a power metal outfit now, album tempo flow the most telling. The quality and overall attractiveness of From Fields of Fire, however, will be in full light, and I am sure it will take less time for many to realize that than it did for me. Mea culpa.

Killing Songs :
216, You Are the Curse, Infinite Lives Infinite Doors
Alex quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Argus that we have reviewed:
Argus - Beyond the Martyrs reviewed by Alex and quoted 79 / 100
Argus - Boldly Stride the Doomed reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Argus - Argus reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
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