From Fields Of Fire
Cruz Del Sur
Pennsylvanian heavy/doom metallers Argus need no introduction and their previous album, Beyond The Martyrs (2013) still ranks with a 94% on Metal Archives (4 Reviews). So with that high of score, why wouldn’t From Fields Of Fire be astonishing to the senses? Spoiler Alert: I think the disc is actually even better than their last, even though it ranks with a 91% (1 Review) on Metal Archives. Though from what I’ve heard, I may have to give this one an even higher rank that that of a 94%. So what am I getting at here? Is this a perfect album? Well, in my eyes, it certainly seems to be that way. Though before we get to that, let us rundown a few changes.
First of all, this is the first band without previous axeman and founding member, Erik Johnson. In his place we have Justin Campbell (ex-Come Summer, ex-RATM2) and Dave Watson (ex-Grave Desire, ex-Icarus Witch) on guitar duties, to which they both perform beautifully. There is no single shortage of great riff melodies to be found here, and Butch Balich still belts it out with the very best of them. And I do mean the VERY BEST of them. The man can not only sing, but he can sing doom metal in such a memorable manner that you just can’t help but notice. Though we knew this already. As far as the solos are concerned, this album is chock full of them, even though a few sections might be cut too soon for my tastes. Though it’s their approach to progressive riffing (which reminds me quite a bit of Slough Feg) that really seems to fill that hole for me. As I said, Argus create memorable riffs on this album and that isn’t something you hear all that often in modern metal. I like riff bands, bands that actually go out of the way to write songs, rather than to copy something that has already been done and put their stamp on it. Sure, once can say that doom is the oldest genre in the game, but it’s still one of the most important; regardless of how much technicality and death metal that you’d like to throw together. It is worth noting that a few unexpected tremolos are featured towards the end of opener “Devils Of Your Time.” This is not an approach that I’ve heard often in doom metal, especially the traditional type. That being said, parts of “Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors” can sound like rather thumping power metal, so there are a great deal of unexpected influences in play here. I’m actually reminded of Brainstorm due the potent, thrashy thump. Add a breathtaking solo to that, and I’m already sold. But wait, there’s more!
The album also features two incredible cuts one right after another in the form of “Hour of Longing” and the immeasurable “No Right To Grieve” which I’d consider to be an absolute monument of emotional grandiosity. I was going to Pallbearer for doom album of the year again, seeing as they had made another this year; but I wasn’t all that pleased with it, finding Argus completely crushed them this time around. Balich’s vocals are nearly inhuman on these cuts, bringing a sense of true emotional passion that comes off unlike very few acts in this genre. After hearing “No Right To Grieve” it more or less has already solidified in your mind that this album is an incredible effort and worthy of being considered one of the best heavy metal albums of the year. In my book, it most definitely is. If not for the memorable riffs, then for the memorable guitar solos. If not for the memorable guitar solos, then for memorable vocal performances. There are so many great moments in this album, and I daresay that I believe it will floor you. I will say that aside from the moments of tremolo and slight power metal thump, it doesn’t reinvent the genre; but I don’t believe that Argus set out to do that. However, it manages to showcase one of the single best doom metal performances that I’ve ever heard and I’d have to recommend it simply for that. It’s quite easy to see why The Grim Tower highly recommends Argus’s From Fields Of Fire. I highly doubt this year, that you will find a doom metal disc with more potency and emotional prowess than this one.
(9 Tracks, 54:00)