Argus – The Outsider

Posted: 110421

Review Erik Neuteboom

This Dutch formation started as a Wishbone Ash cover band but after singer/keyboard player Frans Nooijen joined,  the band decided to write own, progrock inspired material. As a tribute to Wishbone Ash the name of this new Dutch band became Argus, derived from the legendary Wishbone Ash album. In 2016 Argus released its debut album entitled Tell Me, then it took 4 years to produce a new effort named The Outsider (2020). Listening to this album the music evokes mixed feelings to me: on one hand I really like the  Eighties Neo-Prog sound, but on the other hand I notice that the writing skills and vocals showcase limitations, there is room for improvement. So now a kind of musical inventarisation.

The good things. I am delighted about the guitar work: lots of moving, howling and fiery soli, some fat Black Sabbath-like guitar riffs (Lost Girl), and as a Seventies Wishbone Ash and Thin Lizzy fan I love the twin guitar sound (especially in the titletrack and Visions). The long first composition contains some nice musical ideas: from an ominous atmosphere with hypnotizing piano work to bombastic with slow synthesizer flights, to me it sounds like ‘Neo-Prog meets Rush (Jacob’s Ladder comes to my mind). The track Lost Girls delivers pleasant swinging and sparkling piano play. And the final song Breaking Chains features the distinctive Mellotron flute sound, and a swirling Hammond solo, in the vein of Seventies Heavy Prog, like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep.

Room for improvement. Most of the 6 compositions are clocking at least 10 minutes so it is important to keep the attention, unfortunately Argus doesn’t succeed. Because in most of the epics my attention slips a bit away, with less it could have been more I think. And about the vocals, the singer lacks power and expression, it’s too mediocre. And prog begs for vocals with a range, due to the variety, tension and dynamics in this genre.

The next album. The first phase of the band was turning from a Wishbone Ash cover band into a prog rock formation. The second phase was writing own material, inspired by the known progrock bands from the Seventies and Eighties. The third phase was making a first album. And now Argus is in the next phase, looking at the positive and critical remarks, and making conclusions. So I am very curious to Argus its next effort, good luck guys!