1. Argus – Boldly Stride The Doomed

Surprised? I am. As I keep saying, I love retro-metal, and I’ll be damned if these guys aren’t doing it as well as any of their inspirations. Big, no, HUGE riffs, a bass player that wants to be Steve Harris, a drummer like a metronome off by his own, a gruff voiced but entirely intelligible singer; who cares that Paul Di’Anno was imprisoned this year for the British equivalent of welfare fraud (Ol’ Dirty Bastard and his food stamps say hello, Paul) when these Pennsylvanian’s are there to step ably into the breach? This record makes me giddy. Vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich has a tendency to throw in the odd, utterly superfluous “Yeah!” and “Whoa!” and other onomatopoeic exhortations to his band and audience, and each brings a smile or quick “Ha!” from my lips. He also delivers with what I assume is a straight face my favorite line of 2011: “Lost/We run from the light/Our inequity knows no end” When you hear that how can you not throw up a fist at that and celebrate?

My only quibble is with the bass player who thinks he’s Steve Harris. I prefer a bass player that is in lock step with the drums, forming that perfect low end pocket (see Witch Mountain, for example), rather than one who thinks he should be breaking out fiery leads. But if that hasn’t kept me from enjoying Iron Maiden it won’t stop me enjoying these guys who at least have the sense to lower it a bit in the mix.

So my favorite record of 2011 could have come out in 1982. I have no problem with that at all.

This is burger, fries and a shake music. Pick your favorite drive-through and keep this blasting at full volume. Everyone will appreciate it.

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