Boldly Stride the Doomed

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Pennsylvania's Argus made a very strong first impression with their superlative eponymous debut of 2009, but unfortunately not too many people outside a small group of underground heavy metal cognoscenti got word of it. Now, one can only hope that the group's even more accomplished sophomore outing, Boldly Stride the Doomed, will rectify this unjust state of affairs. By all rights, it damn well should -- although using the word "doom" in the album's title actually sells short its much broader creative scope, since Argus, as they did the first time around, stick to slower, dramatic tempos only occasionally (see "The Ladder," the piano-enhanced "42-7-29," the epic-length "Pieces of Your Smile"). In fact, more often than not, and as exemplified by "A Curse on the World," "Wolves of Dusk," and even the album's title track, the band is heard galloping by in full jousting chain mail regalia, twin guitars ringing in unison, in the long tradition of everyone from Iron Maiden to Isen Torr to Grand Magus. No matter what tack they employ, though, perhaps Argus' wisest decision on this second LP was procuring a huge but cleanly separated production that showcases both their songwriting strengths and instrumental prowess, production where even the bass guitar can hold its ground. And when even less distinctive offerings like "Fading Silver Light" and the Crusades-inspired "Durendal" can so easily be rescued from good to great status by emotional guitar solos, it becomes obvious that Argus are firing on all cylinders. Or at least it should be obvious to anyone who actually gets wind of Boldly Stride the Doomed‘s existence -- here's hoping word spreads far and wide.

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