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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Pagan Altar’s ‘The Time Lord’ EP Now Available On CD!

 

Pagan AltarThe Time Lord (11 September 2012, Shadow Kingdom Records)

 
Dear Readers — by now I assume most of you have heard the sad tale of Ed Barnard, from the website Doommantia?

If not, the Readers’ Digest Condensed version goes something like this: after some major health-related issues, then came the astronomical medical bills, which led to serious financial struggles, culminating in the loss of his home. Reportedly, he is now sleeping in a tent somewhere — you can read more at Doommantia (here might be a good place to start).

First of all, I think the whole situation is utter bullshit — something like this shouldn’t happen to anybody. It shouldn’t be allowed to happen to anybody. This is the sort of thing people need to keep in mind when they complain about health care reform, or when they look down upon unemployed and/or homeless people as the result of laziness (or whatever). The point is, shit happens, and it can happen to anybody. At one time or another, we all could probably use a little bit of assistance. Right now, it seems, would be one of those times for Mr. Barnard.

Additionally, I’ve just learned this morning that the Maryland-based doom band War Injun has made it known that they are in the process of putting together a benefit concert to help raise some funds. It will be held on a date yet to be announced, in Frederick MD. No other details are available yet, but here is the preliminary announcement.

Frederick is only a few hours from where I live, so depending on when this takes place, I’ll definitely do my best to be there. If you are somewhere around the area, you should too. If not, well, you can check out Doommantia here, and please note that there is a Paypal donation button embedded on that page. Every little bit helps.

Anyway, it’s interesting that I found out about this today, because it ties in with the post I was already planning on publishing. In addition to the excellent collection of reviews and articles featured on the website, Ed also had a hand in the internet radio station Foundry of Doom. (If I remember correctly, a few years ago the station was forced to cease operating — due to whoever originally ran it having financial trouble of his own, I believe — when Doommantia stepped in and resurrected it.)

Sadly, FOD Radio is no longer broadcasting at this time, but I used to spend countless hours listening to it at work, often discovering some amazing music, both new and old. Before I found that station, of course I was well-versed in some of the bigger names of doom metal — Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Candlemass, and so on — but I found myself getting quite an education.

One of the most significant discoveries I made around that time was the UK’s Pagan Altar — in fact, I can still remember how quickly I was hooked the first time I heard their song “Satan’s Henchman.” I think it’s a crime that this band doesn’t get quite the recognition that some of their peers do, and consider them to be seriously underrated.

So anyway, I guess you could say Doommantia is responsible (either directly or indirectly) for my high level of excitement when I learned that Shadow Kingdom Records had plans to release some Pagan Altar music that had never before been available on CD! This long-out-of-print EP of old demo recordings — some dating back to the band’s beginnings in the late 70s — is called The Time Lord, and it’s officially available from SKR as of today!
 

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