Argus – Beyond the Martyrs (2013), From Fields of Fire (2017); Arduini/Balich – Dawn of Ages (2017)

ArgusBeyond the Martyrs (Cruz del Sur Music, 01 October 2013)

 

Arduini / BalichDawn of Ages (Cruz del Sur Music, 24 February 2017)

 

ArgusFrom Fields of Fire (Cruz del Sur Music, 08 September 2017)

 

I can still remember the first time I heard Argus — in the burgeoning days of the early 2010s, the song was “The Damnation of John Faustus” from their self-titled album. I can’t say for certain, but it was probably on Foundry of Doom radio, since that’s what I spent most of my time listening to back then. And here, among epic tracks by the likes of Solstice, Atlantean Kodex, Solitude Aeturnus, etc., this song’s dark themes and powerful vocals really caught my ear.

This was still months, maybe even up to a year, before the genesis of my career as a writer, but I’ve always been inquisitive and wanted to research and learn more about everything I heard. In this instance, I was struck by how new the band was (their first demo dates back ten years, now, but at the time of this story the debut full-length was about a year or two old), but even more surprised to see that these guys were local (originating in Franklin, PA, just about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh)!

I also discovered that the vocalist, Brian “Butch” Balich (formerly of Penance), is also a member of Molasses Barge, another local doom band that would greatly impress me when I saw them for the first time just months later. Eventually I’d manage to catch Argus live, as well, and they definitely managed to live up to the high expectations set by their incredible recorded output. I believe this was just before the 2013 release of their third album Beyond the Martyrs — one that immediately made its way onto my writing “to do list” but inexplicably has stayed there for these past years.

But now there’s a ferment of activity surrounding the band once more: they recently announced that their fourth album will be coming later this year — and I’ll be discussing both of those today, with an added bonus that was released a few months back by a side project involving Balich. And to top it all off, Argus will also be performing in Pittsburgh THIS FRIDAY (14 July) at an event that doubles as a preview of September’s Brewtal Beer Fest as well as featuring the world premiere of the new beer produced through a collaborative effort between the band and Big Rail Brewing! So after you’re done reading about the music, pop on down to the comments section for more information about that.

 

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Out Today: Icarus Witch – Rise

 

Icarus WitchRise (03 July 2012, Cleopatra Records)

So way back in the dark ages (i.e. the 1990s), when I was in high school, Cleopatra Records was my favorite record label. I’d snatch up all of the compilations and tribute albums I could find at my local store, of their bands’ gothic and industrial cover songs, as well as CDs by Electric Hellfire Club, Mephisto Walz, Melting Euphoria, and lots more.

Eventually, my musical interests expanded in different directions, to include a lot more extreme metal genres, and inadvertently I had completely lost track of Cleopatra.

Fast-forward several years later, and it came to my attention that there was a band from Pittsburgh who had signed to that label, called Icarus Witch. Now, I didn’t know anything about that band (at first), but remembering the styles that Cleopatra was most closely associated with, I was very surprised when I learned that the label had also expanded its musical horizons far beyond where they used to be. Icarus Witch, for example, do a more traditional heavy metal thing with, some power metal influence. And, as it turns out, they’re pretty good at it.

 

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Coming Soon: New Icarus Witch Album (But They Need Help Making a Video!)

 
So the fifth album by Cleopatra Records recording artists (and Pittsburghers) Icarus Witch is coming out in two weeks!

 
Here is a video teaser for Rise, to be released on the 3rd of July:

 
You can also listen to the album’s title track here.

 
Furthermore, the band has filmed a video for the track “The End,” which they hope to be able to get edited and released prior to the release of the album… which is where you come in!

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