Canada’s VARGA are among a comparatively small number of Metal bands that manage to rise again from the dead, having been on some form of hiatus since 1996. Late 2013 saw the release of their rebirth album, “Enter the Metal”, which masterfully combines elements of Thrash, Heavy, Progressive, and perhaps even a little Power Metal. This sees a drastic change from their tenure during the 90’s, which were inspired by Nu, Industrial and Groove metal. I feel as if this change was most welcomed because, even though “Enter the Metal” is a short album according to the track listing, each of the songs are individually lengthy powerhouses of pure metal.
“Beginning of the End” is, without contest, the fastest and most aggressive track on the album, interceded by only a few calm passages. The Thrash-inspired riff work is incredibly obvious; I’m making many melodic and rhythmic connections with MEGADETH’s “Endgame” album, my favorite MEGADETH album of all time. Even Joe’s voice sounds almost identical to Mustaine’s, and at some point I feel as if I’m listening to Dave himself. A good thing, since he has one of the most established and powerful vocal techniques in Thrash metal, and it fits this blistering speed track perfectly.
“Plane Crash” contains little vocal lines in comparison to other tracks, but it stood out as a true gem of the genre. Who am I kidding? There are at least 5 (arbitrarily speaking) genres in this track alone. It begins with heavy and complex riffage, with technical rhythm patterns that strongly evoke Prog. From time to time, here on in, I hear a little of ICED EARTH, a lot of Thrash Metal. The drum work purveyed Dan are technical and precise on the mathematical level; the twin guitar leads are virtuosic in nature, but my favorite thing about this track (and most of the other tracks) is the bass work by Joe, with a tone that perfectly balances growl and clarity, and playing that balances technical lead fills without acting like a 3rd guitar.
“Enter the Metal” is one hell of an album, and an even better comeback album in retrospect. I can only hope it will do wonders for putting the band back into some sort of spotlight.