Written by Jason Hillenburg, posted by blog admin
The long wait for the fourth full length album from Pennsylvania’s Argus, From Fields of Fire, hasn’t diluted or lessened its eventual impact. From Fields of Fire’s nine songs bristle with life and inventiveness, never feeling too belabored or studied as if the band’s new lineup is straining to maintain any creative direction. Argus, instead, sounds confident and comfortable but, more importantly, hungry and ambitious to push their music into new areas while consolidating their traditional strengths. There isn’t a single disappointing release in the band’s discography and, if anything, the fourth album continues an upward tick in quality that’s defined their development from the first.
The album opens with a brief acoustic instrumental “Into the Fields of Fire”. There’s a hint of the gypsy in the almost flamenco-ish swish of the melody, but there’s an underlying minor key quality present as well. “Devils of Your Time” has a nicely exhortative chorus that makes the song seem ideally suited for live performance and tasteful lead fills pepper the guitars’ otherwise straight-forward staccato power chord charge. There’s a seemingly a little echo added to Brian “Butch” Balich’s vocal, but Balich never needs even a hint of bells or whistles as he still possesses the emotive edge and lights out, lung-busting vocal muscle that’s always been a key part of his presentation. Balich comes at listeners again with another bruising vocal on “As a Thousand Thieves” and fiery lead guitar punctuates his powerhouse singing. “You Are The Curse”, the album’s first single, has some of the strongest melodic elements on the album and a near ideal example of Balich’s talent for putting down a tight, intelligent lyric serving the music first and foremost.
“Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors”, clocking in at just over eleven minutes, definitely embodies the zenith of their ambition with this new release. The disparate sections of the song, often wildly varying in both mood and tempo, nonetheless blend seamlessly together and maintain coherence throughout. Bands often times sound out of their element when they trying stretching out like this, but this song comes across as a wholly organic affair rather than an unit attempting to will an epic into being. The blinding guitar attack of Jason Mucio and Dave Watson is set to stun throughout the release and few songs are loaded with more gut wrenching firepower than “Hour of Longing”. Balich serves up one of his stronger vocals to make this one of the album’s harder-hitting numbers. “No Right to Grieve” is cut from similar cloth as “Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors” in its insistence on invoking mood and atmosphere rather than simply bulldozing listeners with further guitar workouts. Balich’s imaginative touch as a lyricist remains an important component in the band’s songwriting, but the songs on From Fields of Fire are rife with an increased willingness to personalize the writing as never before. It pays off enormously in the hands of such a memorable vocalist. They bookend the album with a final acoustic track entitled “From the Fields of Fire” that comes off as a more muted, wearier take on the opening instrumental. Argus has emerged from a turbulent period in their history stronger than ever before and taking their craft to new heights.