Surprises are usually pretty cool. Pregnancy surprises not so much but metal surprises are damn awesome. In this case the metal surprise came in a CD mailer from one of the industry folks we works with. Inside was “Enter The Metal” from the band Varga.
Now I have to admit that up till now I had never heard of this band and I was surprised to find out that they have been knocking it out in Canada since 1989.
Enter The Metal is their third full length release. Word is they split up for over decade and this release marks their return after seventeen years.
The six tracks that comprise the disc definitely have a horror metal bent to them. Besides the classic stuff like Mercyful Fate I’ve never been a big fan of that side of metal. That makes this disc all the more of a surprise. The songs and especially the guitar work really drew me in.
So I spent several days listening to this one. It was very adept at making a crappy commute much better. At that point I had not even looked at the liner notes I was just absorbing the metal. The first thing I noticed was what seemed like a host of classic metal influences such as the aforementioned Mercyful Fate, Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, and Priest. I was in for another surprise when I got around to reading the liner notes and they cite every one of those great bands and a half dozen more as well.
Let’s take a quick run through this one. It kicks off with “Beginning Of The End” which clocks in at over six minutes. Unlike a lot of releases this one kicks in with 15 seconds of drums which resolve in a riff very influenced by “Exciter” but quickly gives way to more of a Mercyful Fate/Annihilator set of riffage. Nice powerful rhythms let the vocals float nicely on top lithesome tasty fills between verses. It has very live sound. Right around the 4 minute mark you get some cool Rush-like bass and guitar interplay which gives way to some acoustic and fuzz doomy parts. All of this in just one song. Usually a six minute could get old but these guys have put so much into every song that you don’t realize how long it is.
Next up is the seven minute “Gamera”. Now normally I would be skipping through any song about some sci-fi beast. This one has some really nice elements. They have managed to put the doom riffs of Black Sabbath in a prog context. Not an easy task but it works. This one also includes some King Diamond like vocal maneuvers and some nice thrashy break downs.
Track 3 is “Mad Scientist”. There’s some nice scalar soloing in the beginning which gives way to some Anthrax like guitar work. This one didn’t quite hold up for me since I really wanted the Anthrax feel to continue but they chucked in a change that a thought brought the overall energy down. It does return to form in the second verse though and redeems itself a bit. The solo in here was also notable. It starts with a very eighties guitar hero sound which turns into a more Dimebag influenced section.
After that is the 8 minute behemoth “Plane Crash”. I will say that the first two minutes is just instrumental. If this was the first Ozzy album they would have chopped it off and called it a separate song. This whole song is a cool concept these guys are trying to put the whole mental rollercoaster of a plane crash into a musical format. It damn impossible to put it into words and you’ll just have to buy the disc to experience it.
“No More Clean Air” is up next. This ones the shortest song on the disc. This is the ultimate horror track. It’s not just the everyday pollutants that they talk about it’s also all the crap on our airwaves. Nicely done!! Killer breakdown on this one too. Live this one must absolutely slay.
Rounding it out is “Shark Attack”. This one is my favorite on here and for once I can’t figure out why. The watery intro is an excellent way to kick this one off and the addition of the fuzzed out bass (ala Anesthesia Pulling Teeth) add like element of dread. Between the guitars and the drum lines this is probably the thrashiest track on here. I think it has the old school SF sound to it.
So the songs are all solid, how about delivery? Well if you actually buy CDs this one comes in a nice gatefold with some nice artwork so that’s solid too.
The icing on the cake, they dedicate the disc to Cliff, Ronnie and Jeff Hanneman. So all in all a great metal album created by true metal fans for metal fans.
Well done boys. Hope the next one isn’t going to take another seventeen years.