Back in 2013 Varga put out their first new release since 1995’s Oxygen. It was clear listening to that release and talking with drummer Dan Fila that “Enter The Metal” represented a bunch of friends coming back together and jam. The results of those jams was pretty damn impressive. In fact I still have that release on my desk, that sucker has never been put away.
Here we are a year later and here come’s the aptly titled “Return Of The Metal”. Here’s the short version of my review…”Hole-E-Fuck!!”.
If that doesn’t fill the need I’ll expand on that. Once again Varga has produced six monolithic tracks of metal. Six? Yeah six, but we are talking the shortest track is 5:37 most run 6 to 8 minutes. Also once again Varga proudly displays their influences in the tracks and on the liner notes. This was very apparent right from track one “Three Section Staff” where Joe Varga goes from his regular register into soaring King Diamond punctuations. Aaaahh it’s good to be a metalhead.
So let’s break it down. Track one the aforementioned “Three Section Staff” is almost nine minutes of twists and turns set to lyrics about martial arts. There’s some great guitar work in here as well as some type of instrumentation I can’t figure out (and it’s pissing me off). Hopefully I’ll be talking to one of the guys soon so I can find out how they did what they did.
Next up is “After Life Comes” a song which questions about what happens when ya take the dirt nap. Are we worm food or what? This has all the thrash elements that we love. It kicks off with a bass riff that would do Ellefson proud. Many parts and tempo changes and it’s just plain HEAVY.
“Disfigured Gargoyle” reminds me (and I don’t know why) of Zetro era (the first time) Exodus or even some Hatriot. So many it’s the vocals. This ones a bit more uptempo and once again killer guitar work come solo time. Perhaps the fact that for most of the tune the guitar is restrained to chord stabs makes the solo that much more intense.
“Evil Drifters” will be the track of the week of Focus on Metal 191. This is one of those horror tunes you expect from Varga. On the last release I think “Shark Attack” was the one that sent your mind to horrorville. On this one it’s “Evil Drifters” Kudos for the dizzying circus like intro part.
Last time around the social commentary song was “No More Clean Air” this time it’s track five “Money Talks”. Don’t confuse it with the tune of the same name by the brothers Young. That was a fun time tune this one ain’t. The best way to describe Varga’s take is, think of Mustaine talking about the evil that money can bring. In fact the song reminds me quite a bit of Peace era Megadeth. Some of the best guitar work on the album is on this one. There’s a very Metallica like roller-coaster break that is total ear candy for metal fans.
Sadly our trip ends at track 6 “Far East Super Slaughter”. That should have been an album title for Tokyo Blade or Loudness. It is a cool track but I’m glad it’s at the end. It would have broken the groove if had been placed anywhere else. This one is one of Varga’s classic narrative story songs. It’s almost like hearing an entire movie in 6:29. Not my favorite track but still 100% metal.
So where does all this lead us? With “Return of The Metal” Varga is clearly back in action. These songs sound more cohesive than their 2013 effort and they have also upped the overall heaviness factor as well. If you like classic metal/thrash I think this will fit the bill nicely. I’m thinking that like the prior release this one might still be out on my desk in 12 months.
I’m giving it a solid 9.5 out of 10. Well worth your metal dollar and c’mon ya gotta support independent guys like this that actually put out great stuff.
Pick up a copy at VargaHQ.com or anywhere you usually get your metal. If you go to their website maybe pick up some other cool Varga merch for yourself too.
I saw “thrash metal” as this album’s genre so of course I went straight for it! I also imagined that Varga would attempt to make their thrash sound like 80s thrash. It was a solid attempt, but they didn’t succeed in really tapping to the core of original thrash. However, they did manage to make some good sounding thrash overall. The vocals had that 80s “charm” to them with dark lyrics that’ll get the people who like the darker side of metal going. The guitars were (of course) fast paced and they had a really good rhythm the whole album that kept the energy without pause or stutter. And the drums had a relentless pace the entire time while having a great beat along the way. Overall, “Return of the Metal” is a good thrash metal album that seems like it’s trying to be like 80s thrash (not saying it is) but it was just off the mark even though it’s still a good album! Definitely one to check out if you’re a fan of thrash.
Varga was formed by childhood friends Joey Varga (bass) and Dan Fila (drums) around Hamilton Ontario Canada in the late 80s, releasing their first independent cassette “Multiple Wargasms” in 1991 featuring a progressive thrash metal sound with industrial interjections.
In 1992 the band recorded a full length album under Maze America which was never released on the record label as it folded that year. In 1993 Varga signed with the Zoo/BMG and released “Prototype” the following year, their most successful release which gained popularity on FM radio and MTV rotation. The band toured extensively in the US and Canada drawing an extensive fan base. By 1998 Varga took a break, while still keeping in touch, Varga was on hiatus for the time being….
Fast-forward to 2011 the band reconnected with Adam Alex (guitar) and Sean Williamson (lead guitar) who realized that the old chemistry was still there and the band decided to enter the studio with Julius Butty to start recording their next album after a 12 year break, “Enter The Metal” in 2013. The band realized that they had a lot more material than what one CD could represent so they continued writing and have now released “Return Of The Metal”. Both CDs could have been released as a double “gatefold” album back in the day, but in this new age of record label independence, Varga has executed these discs’ releases with a building momentum of interest.
Hailed as a working man’s band (that most known bands probably draw material from) Varga is the real deal, invigorating progressive heavy metal in its most original form.
The band performs with a passion and a unified team effort that sounds extreme yet effortless by these craftsmen of the metal trade. Weaving speed thrash and twisting time changes through-out their music, the band seems driven to excellence at their given charge of total metalhead satisfaction.
From the opening track “Three Section Staff” the band demonstrates the mesmerizing capabilities that are about to unfold. From Dan Fila’s powerful prowess on the drum kit, Joey Varga’s bad ass bass and superb vocals, combined with the ever driving force of Sean Williamson and Adam Alex’s twin guitar onslaughts, the end result is sheer metal brilliance.
“After Life Comes” engages the listener to question our own reality and the possibilities of the universe. The song propels along with a splendid heavy bass back beats accompanied by time stopping riffs and hooks that boggle the mind.
“Disfigured Gargoyle” depicts a world in chaos where we’ve been told to get things right or an unworldly entity will drop from the heavens to lay waste of our ignorance and pride. Very heavy and epic with gut wrenching power \m/
“Evil Drifters” has a chromatic scale with wailing guitar chug, painting a picture of some bad ass futuristic High Plains gunslingers rolling across the plains looking for trouble and taking down names.
Let the head banging commence .. As we segue into “Money Talks”. A double time – heavy metal beat down with spiraling lyrics about economic chaos and how greed is a part of all of us. The thrashiest number on the disc with Sean and Adam sharing frets of fire and the rhythm section blowing things up.
“Far East Super Slaughter” is a gritty tale of how war machines continue to roll on throughout the world. The relentless bombastic serenade between drums and guitars create the perfect canvas to paint this picture of war torn countries and governments fighting for power and greed.
This rebirth of Varga is that of a band, that has it’s core values; in creating honest credible, original, mesmerizing and memorable metal music, in a day and age when cookie-cutter vocals and following the next musical trend seems the norm. This band thoroughly enjoys challenging themselves to creating a sound that will be universally heard and understood as the one and only Varga.
Refracting and reshaping all of the metal/music that you thought you knew… into something new.
I thoroughly enjoy this disc time and again as well as “Enter The Metal” … both are a must have in your metal library for years to come!
Canadian Metal never could hook up with the American nor European scene. Yet some of the best and most influencing bands came out of this large country and became worldwide popular. The bands that came out of the most Northern part of the American continent left an inheritance behind that will always be important in the history of Heavy Metal . Rush, Anvil, Annihilator, Devin Townsend to name a few. Also the underground over there delivered some awesome stuff, think Razor, Sword, Hanker and Sacrifice. My favorite Canadian band has always been Eidolon, delivering at least two masterpieces and the Drover brothers were so good they were invited to join Megadeth and King Diamond later on. That means a lot because both are world dominating bands. The result was that Eidolon disbanded ad that’s a pity.
Brings me to a band called Varga, also heading from out of Canada, a land I really need to visit one day in my life. This isn’t at all a new band and when you look into their history you will discover the band started in 1989. Ever since they released three albums and they are important enough to have their own page at the BNR-Metal pages. Unfortunately this is one of my first meetings with this formation but after hearing this newbie of the band I feel the need to purchase the rest as well. This is a band I overlooked, I admit. Meanwhile I have searched for the band and YouTube learned me the band sounded different in the old days, more in vein of Pearl Jam etc.
Starting with a great intro the band unleashes hell with one after another very dark pure Metal song. I adore this kind of technical played Metal. That this is American Metal, allow me to add Canada to it for once, needs no explanation. Only American oriented bands can play this way. I mean razor sharp riffs with lots of hooks, fast fingered leads and an overwhelming base underneath the tracks, by impressive drums and ditto spectacular bass guitars. This band knows what good song writing is all about and is able to vary in the songs, especially on those arrangements were the solos fits. Going slower and more sentinel to gear the speed and returning to mid-tempo breaks. You’ll witness mind blowing riffs and leads and that makes me play imaginary guitars.
Singer Joe Varga is the ideal singer for this kind of Metal because he contains a strong pair of lungs. He has a clear yet aggressive vocal sound and knows perfectly when he needs to sound more forceful, by screaming out. This kind of vocals is the most adorable on technical played Metal. Varga plays Metal in the vein of Megadeth, Toxik, Antithesis and for example Anacrusis and Coroner but thanks to Joe Varga this band contains their own touch. Nasty Savage crosses my mind because of the drums. Progressive, mid tempo Thrash, pure and dark are the key words here! It might not be the Metal the entire world is waiting for but it is true and that’s what counts! You will easily discover some experienced musicians are at work here, the way any single note is discovered and performed will tell you all.
This album contains six songs which is full with exciting compositions. This record is good produced and this kind of music demands this way of production. It obliges me to gear up the volume and the louder you’ll play “Return Of The Metal” the more joy you will have. I don’t know if the Metal scene contains much more undiscovered gems and bands that are hooking up since ages with so much beauties on their sleeve… I really hope I didn’t miss too much because it would be a disgrace if bands like Varga stays unnoticed. This band maintained the attention of the mainstream Metal scene long ago and opened for White Zombie and Metallica, something 99% of the Metal scenes can’t show on their curriculum vitae.
As the album begins I notice a simple melodic approach, then it kicks in! I can tell this is going to be a fun album to listen to!
Sean Williamson and Adam Alex on the guitars are ripping thru speakers with that cut that just gets in deep. It has been a while since I have heard some really original guitar playing that was not just running thru the motions. Both Sean and Adam have some old school soul in their playing using the fretboard as a playground; a dance floor for the fingers, if you will. The guitar work is amazing; from the hard crunching chords to the sinister leads. The bass rumbling in the background is like a thunderstorm moving in. Pulling double duty is Joe Varga who ably handles the thundering power of the bass and the vocal duties. (I am noticing the trend of bass players fronting bands. There have been some greats that have done this but today in music you are seeing it more and more.) It is very clear and noticeable that Joe can handle pulling off both postions. His vocals are amazing and he can switch it up between the sounds of a young Rob Halford to the undeniable king of high pitched screams, King Diamond. Dan Fila is the hard hitting time keeper you hear ripping it out. He just knows how to throw them sticks down with some really amazing fills and so much power coming off the kick drums. Dan is a animal when it comes to being behind a kit and he is no stranger to off time beats and those little extras that most forget to throw in. The double bass kicks in and you can feel a sudden rage come over you. Just listening to the CD makes me want to go outside and start my own pit.
This band has been on the big circuit as well as touring local gigs. They know what it is like to be signed to a major label and how it goes in the music field. They surely are not strangers to a big stage or a small stage. This is one of those things that can make or break a band and Varga is no stranger to this curse. They have learned the hard way what it is to be like a date on prom night; only being used as long as someone it can benefit from it. Not to mention the stress that comes between friends while on the road. But, was all the time off a bad thing? Not at all. It has brought this band to a place where they look past the yesteryears and are starting to form the music for the future. Varga is back with a vengeance and I think this album will prove that.
So if you are looking for something new to listen to then this is the band you want to have in your playlist! Varga are from Ontario, Canada so if you are in that area or know anyone in that area then share this band with them!