Okay I am really kicking myself now for not checking this out sooner. I saw a ton of hype for the band and was a bit slow on the uptake, still having the groove and nu metal of days of old blinding me to what the new and improved Varga is all about. I finally have seen the light and looked further into this Varga machine and I am glad I did! What we have here is something special and unique, incorporating a lot of odd bits and pieces of many different styles and influences, a touch of the groove is still present and a bit of nu age anger, and a heap of thrash coating on a doomy undercarriage and we have a punishing and riveting behemoth of METAL!
Varga are another band that refuses to follow into a neat little labeling system, a bit of the old a bit of the new but all eminently Varga! If you are one of the few, who like me still envisioned the band’s earlier incarnations and have held back, stop it immediately and give this a spin! I don’t care if you are a fan of Machine Head, Motorhead, Diamond Head, Metallica-head or (insert your band name here) head, Varga bring something new and different to the table, hell… they brought their own table! Do yourself a favor and give it a spin… or three as there is so much to take in with these six tracks that one time through just doesn’t cut it.
Return Of The Metal? Indeed!
Choice Tracks – After Life Comes, Three Section Staff, Evil Drifters, Money Talks
Canadian Progressive Thrash Giants are back for “part 2″ of their return to their Metallic origins
Some might remember Varga from the early to mid-90’s, they had a couple songs on MTV and even opened for the likes of Metallica. When things didn’t take off as expected, they called it a day. Then a couple year’s ago they returned with “Enter The Metal”. It was a return to their early roots of mixing genres into a blender and coming up with a unique sound. They call it Heavy Progressive Thrash Metal and that’s really about as well as their music can be described.
“Return Of The Metal” picks off exactly where “Enter…” left off. They are making NO attempt and being “radio friendly” here. It’s almost like “been there, done that_ fuck that”. The songs are long, there’s extended jamming, wicked time-changes, singing, shouting, drum solos and overall mayhem. It’s a Progger and Thrasher’s dream!
They continue their theme of kung-fu and b-movie horror as well, but it’s not overpowering or done as schtick. In other words, it’s part of the music but it’s not over-the-top, it’s more like the cherry on top of a Metal sundae.
Varga is simply a machine, guitarist Adam Alex and Sean Williamson blast out a wall of electric mayhem with amazing precision. Joey Varga’s bass and Dan Fila’s drumming are in perfect sync. Varga also covers the vocals, which makes his playing even more impressive. These guys basically grew up together and the music shows, they’re extremely tight and they seem to be sharing a brain when they play together. I can’t wait to hear what’s next from Varga.
It doesn’t even seem like six months since I checked out the last Varga album “Enter the Metal”. Here we have “Return of the Metal”, with the same look to the cover, a similar title and virtually the same format….six long, involved tunes of precision technical thrash. I would be surprised if this album wasn’t recorded during the same sessions that yielded “Enter the Metal”.
Nevertheless, I find Varga to be an entertaining band. There’s simply not too many acts playing this style of Megadeth/Annihilator progressive thrash. These guys throw a multitude of time and riffing changes at you within their tunes, keeping you on your toes and they’ve also got plenty of almost Satriani-like soloing to delight shred fans out there. If you got “Enter the Metal”, you will know the style EXACTLY because Varga do not deviate from it at all here. “Three Section Staff”, a tribute to the old Shaw Brothers kung fu classics, is a fun way to kick things off with a barrage of twisting riffs. Lyrically these guys don’t seem to take themselves too seriously, with songs influenced by various B-movies. When they do try to make a statement, as on “Money Talks”, they wind up sounding kind of foolish. But that song is one of the best on show, along with “After Life Comes” and “Evil Drifters”.
It’s kind of an acquired taste, especially Joe Varga’s nasal vocals and the style is off the beaten path, but Varga is not a band to overlook or underestimate.
Oh these silly Canadian’s, oh how I love them! Well, last time we visited with the behemoth that is Varga, we were told to Enter The Metal and it is stellar. This time Joe Varga and company have issued the 6 track killer EP called, Return of the Metal, and it is quite tasty, indeed. This is Technical, Thrashy, Progressive Metal at its finest.
Varga have such a great sense of humor (ala Devin Townsend) and they always back it up with some serious slices of riff laden, heavy groovin’, Metal goodness. Add in a touch of Bruce Lee flavored Kung Fu and you are starting to understand the greatness of Varga. I always hear a bit of good ol’ Anvil (circa 1981-82) in Varga’s music, but slam that with the power of Pantera, the onslaught that is Annihilator and the previously mentioned D.T. and Strapping Young Lad and you are getting warm. No, it was not intentional to mention all of those Canadian bands, but check out Varga and tell me you hear the influences, too!! This latest opus starts off with the 8 minute track, “Three Section Staff” and friends, strap in! Double kick drums throttling your head back and forth, while the guitars just don’t let up. NICE!!!
Varga’s Heavy Progressive Metal stylings are just massive. Tremendous guitar riffing all over top of some killer odd time signatures just sweetens the pot that these have been continuing to serve up since they reformed in 2011. This 6 track EP of sorts, clocks in at 40 minutes of Canadian Metal mayhem and does not disappoint. How could a record suck when it has a song called, “Disfigured Gargoyle” and it is also available as a download or in a 6 (YES 6!!) panel Digi-pak CD?!! It can’t!! It rules!
So I’ve had this new one from heavy metal stalwarts VARGA for about a month now, and I’ve listened to it a bunch of times. But every time I tried to write about it the words just escaped me. Why that is I don’t know. What I do know is that VARGA is back with a vengeance on Return of the Metal, less than a year after dropping Enter the Metal on our heads. You want thrash riffs? You got ‘em! You want intricate time changes that will take you Gods knows where? You got those too! You want all-around great musicianship? Check! The band really makes a statement with this album, which is available now.
Things get started with “Three Section Staff”, and it’s eight minutes of thrashy madness that also incorporates some prog elements, as does second song “After Life Comes”, one of the choicest cuts on the disc. With devastating instrumental breaks between the vocals that are in danger of carrying you away somewhere, this is arguably my favorite song, especially the last two minutes. “Disfigured Gargoyle” starts out sounding like something we could have heard on any of our favorite thrash albums of the 80’s and then it’s all over the fucking place. I don’t know WHAT’S going on, but I sure as hell dig it!
It’s all systems go for “Evil Drifters” drummer Dan Fila setting the pace and bassist/vocalist Joe Varga roughing it up. Guitarists Sean Williamson and Adam Alex steadily feed the riff machine then venture off into some serious dual solo territory. What helps to make the sound so strong is the thickness of the rhythm section which is lights out, never once overplaying or showing off, as is the temptation sometimes when dealing with musicians of this caliber. As far as “Money Talks” goes, this has that early MEGADETH sound written all over it. I’m talking the Peace Sells era, my favorite time in that band’s history. But I also got a hint of one of my other old favorite bands, WRATHCHILD AMERICA (remember them??) from this one. And Varga goes from Mustaine growls to a high shriek with ease, making this the other favorite on the album.
“Far East Super Slaughter” ends the record on a very positive note with musical intricacies aplenty and some more great vocals from Varga. As I said earlier I’ve been listening to this album a lot since I got it, but it’s only now that I figured out the best way to describe what I was hearing this time out. If you’re a fan of early MEGADETH, TESTAMENT, and some more off the wall stuff like WRATHCHILD AMERICA then you’ll really, really like VARGA. I guess the best way to try to categorize the band is “prog-thrash”?? I dunno, take a listen and make up your own minds. Am I supposed to do everything for you?
STANDOUT TRACKS: “After Life Comes”, “Money Talks”, “Evil Drifters”