After several years of waiting and longing US based troop Argus has unleashed their 4th studio album From Fields of Fire and many claim that this is by far their strongest record. And since the band is already doing great its time to present their new album on our pages. So, the time has come to learn more about Argus and their brand new effort!
Argus has delivered three studio albums and three EPs so far. The band has already been quite established within traditional heavy metal ground. Could you tell us just brief history of the band and present Argus to our readers?
The band was formed around 2005 by Kevin Latchaw and Erik Johnson. I joined the band in 2006 and the band started really developing from there as we began writing new material. Argus went from being kind of a groove/stoner rock band to us focusing on our metal influences, double guitars etc…. Maiden, Candlemass, Thin Lizzy, Slough Feg, Metallica….bands like that. This line-up was Kevin Latchaw – Drums, Jason Mucio – guitar, Mike Wisniewski – guitar, Andy Ramage – bass and me on vocals. After the debut album “Argus” was released Mike quit and Erik rejoined on guitar. We recorded “Boldy Stride the Doomed” and “Beyond the Martyrs” with that line-up and made a few tips overseas as well for Dublin Doom Days, Hammer of Doom, Dutch Doom Days as well as some shows or our own. In 2014 and 2016 we parted ways with Andy and Erik with Justin Campbell (bass) and Dave Watson (guitar)…. This lineup did some touring including performing at Roadburn, Hell Over Hammaburg and German Sword Brothers and subsequently recorded our fourth album “From Fields of Fire”. Our label, Cruz Del Sur, released the album on September 8 this year. We’ve tried to keep as busy as we can writing and recording and gigging and touring when possible. We see the band as a true metal band though we do have a doomy side to us and often get considered a doom metal band. As long as folks are listening we don’t worry too much about how we are classified. Our goal is to create the best albums we can and be the best live band we are capable of.
As a matter of fact you have a brand new record From Fields of Fire. So tell us something about a newer record? Could you present it from your point of view?
We started writing in earnest in 2016. The line-up shifts set us back somewhat. The writing was handled by Dave and Jay with input from all of us on arrangements and I handled the lyrics and melodies. It was a fairly smooth recording process. Dave and I had a great time doing vocals this time around. We got a ton done and had a lot of laughs too. Dave, Jay, Kevin and Justin play brilliantly on the album. I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved with the album. I think we kept the core of what Argus does and then expanded on it in a few places. IT’s always tough to know how far and how fast to try new things but there are some elements in songs like “Devils of Your Time” and “No Right To Grieve” is really quite different for us. That was a song that Dave brought in and was based around the idea of building a song based around the some chordal progression and how could we make it work by modifying the vocals and slightly altering how the progression was played as the song went on. It was a case where the end result came out even better than what we had hoped for. It’s a very sad kind of song….not a ballad but very somber and moody. “From Fields of Fire” strikes a balance by being more uptempo musically but moodier and definitely more emotional, personal and darker lyrically. So while folks may perceive it as the least “doomy” of our albums after several listens I think folks will understand what we did here. It’s our most complete album to date. I can’t think of a single song on it that any of us feel ambivalent about. We hope people dig it as much as we dug creating it.
In fact, From Fields of Fire is your 3th full-length so tell us something more about your previous album? Could you compare your new record with your previous release since your previous records?
“Beyond the Martyrs” was the prior record and a slight shift for us – it was more straightforward and to the point, shorter than either of our first two albums. It also had us shifting the tempos up some – the end result was maybe a step away from the doom underpinnings of the first two records. I think it has some great songs on it…certainly “By Endurance We Conquer”, “Cast Out All Raging Spirits” and “The Hands of Time Are Bleeding” are some of our very best songs over the course of our career.
I think “From Fields of Fire” is our most solid release to date. I love the others but there are songs on each that maybe could have used some more editing or maybe some weren’t as strong as others on the album. From the standpoint of playing, singing, writing and sonics we upped our game from the prior records. This record has zero fat on it in my opinion. I mean…ask me again in a year hahaha but as of now it’s my favorite of the 4.
When it comes to Argus do you have any live shows in mind soon? Are you active actually when it comes to live performances?
We had a nine date tour in Austria, Switzerland and Germany in September that culminated at the Storm Crusher Festival. We went over with our friends in High Spirits who are one of our favorite bands. It was an amazing tour – we always get treated so well by the people in Europe. Fabulous time. Saw a lot of old friends and made some new ones.
We try to be as active as our schedules will allow. With families and/or serious jobs we will never be a band that can tour constantly but we do love it. I think we’ll play locally once more this year and start looking at options for both the US and Europe for 2018 to push “From Fields of Fire” before we settle into the pattern for writing and recording album 5.
As a matter of fact you have traditional heavy and doom influences in your style. If you like to recommend Argus to some people what references you would like to drown to some other bands and styles?
Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Slough Feg, Grand Magus, Candlemass among others
What could you tell us about the cover artwork this time? Who has done it and what do you like to express by it?
Brad Moore did the art again. He’s our go-to guy . Brilliant artist. I think this is the best cover he’s done for us yet. We really didn’t have a solid concept going in as far as tying the art to the lyrics but rather some ideas about what we wanted to see in general. Brad took that and ran with it.
Are you satisfied by what you have achieved with Argus so far? I mean there were three full albums so far and some tours as well, so how do you look upon all that you have gain with the band?
I know I feel tremendously fortunate to have had the chance to join the band 11 years ago and to be the voice for such great musicians. We’re never going to be a household name but we’ve accomplished a lot in those 11 years – 4 albums, 2 eps, a DVD, playing some killer shows in the US and touring a handful of times in Europe meeting and performing for some wonderful people…. We’re doing our part to keep true metal alive and I think we’ve made a good name for ourselves. We have a great label behind us that believes in us and loves our music…. For what we are able to do, taking family and work considerations into the equation, we have been really blessed so far. Musically we’ve grown with every release and we’re still inspired and creative and we’re going to keep going and progressing and taking this as far as we can artistically and in terms of building our fanbase.
- Interview by Marko Miranovic