At first, Gus McArthur may sound like a guy who’s named an entire musical act after
himself or a lone singer-songwriter, but it’s not.
Gus McArthur is a perdurable character that reportedly first appeared in century-old warfare and is still seen in conflicted areas of the Middle East today. His façade is manifested in the form of a four-piece band from San Diego.
“Many attempts have been made to capture his image but the band Gus McArthur were the first to see him in his truest form and wear his mask to channel him in their performances,” reads the official website. “His words are their words, his music their music.”
Formed in 2014, this group is the commingling of two brothers from different musical backgrounds. Honan “The Destroyer” is a neo-classical/thrash metal guitarist with a vocal style that screams ‘80s rock influence. His older brother Gordon “The Hater” is a hip-hop and spoken word vocalist. Gus McArthur is made whole with Johnson “The Z” Zhang, a drummer originally from China.
Chapter Two: Fanatics is the latest EP from this quartet following 2016’s Chapter
The second release contains three tracks starting with “The Calling.” There’s a
climatic build up of tribal drums, guitar, and synths in the intro. It resolves calmly
with the beginning of the verse but quickly turns chaotic with a barrage of
instruments. Contrast between the siblings’ vocals is strikingly prominent. “The
Destroyer” sounds more relaxed and composed when he sings whereas “The Hater”
sounds more aggressive and combative. Even though the younger brother’s singing
is much more rock-inspired, an argument can be made that the emcee’s approach
gives things a heavier edge.
The first three minutes of “Darker than Black” consists of the pair swapping lines to
the accompaniment of soft piano playing. Honan displays highs and harmonies reminiscent of Freddie Mercury. Gordon still has attitude in his delivery but it comes off as welcoming this time. Distortion and rhythm kicks in at 3:09 and it turns into a metal affair mixed with a nursery rhyme type of jam.
“End of Eternity is a straight dose of thrash with blast beats included. “The Hater”
sings in a way that fits in surprisingly well with the song’s genre. His voice is almost
indistinguishable from Honan’s.
Initially, it may appear as though there’s too much of a clash between hip-hop and rock going on here. Upon further listen, one can conclude that this is the successful melding of those styles. It might take a while to realize that this music is unique just like the name may fool the public into thinking that Gus McArthur is something it’s not. Nonetheless, things are not always as they seem.