During the late 80’s and early 90’s, Varga was one of the better Canadian metal acts to find success on a major label and getting heavy rotation on Much Music. They went on the road and opened for Metallica and White Zombie, and toured extensively throughout Canada and the United States. They played a hybrid style of prog/thrash/industrial metal, releasing the album Prototype in 1993 and Oxygen in 1996 before leaving the metal scene behind.
The members of the band went on their separate ways, continuing to perform in various other projects until reuniting in 2012. The group recently entered the studio with producer Julius Butty (Hypodust) to record 6 new songs that hark back to their progressive/thrash metal roots. The album is appropriately called Enter the Metal and that is exactly what you get here; 6 tracks of progressive metal, crazy time changes, a plethora of riffs and multi-layered vocals to top it all off.
Enter the Metal screams to life with “Beginning of the End” and opens with the famous Oppenheimer quote “Now I become Death” before splintering off into a full-fledged progressive attack. This song also appears on their Multiple Wargasms demo from 1991 and gets updated here. The next track “Gamera” showcases some of Varga’s heavy progressive leanings, extending over 8 minutes and melding groove, thrash and prog rock into a melodic mélange of sounds. This is probably my favorite track, not only because it is a song about the famous Toho Studios monster, but it even goes so far as to lift Gamera’s theme song, inserting it into the beginning of the track.
Beyond that, “Plane Crash” and “Mad Scientist” are also numbers that appeared originally on their 1991 demo, so when the band claimed to be going back to their original roots they meant it. The next track “No More Clean Air” is the most serious number here, given how the socially conscious lyrics really drip venom. It is also the shortest composition on the album, often reminding me of the substance released on 1993’s Prototype. I really liked this number and they follow it up with the thrashy tempo of “Shark Attack,” relying on the satisfying mix of a driving rhythm section and relentless riffing to close things out.
Having Varga return to the Canadian metal scene is significant, especially since I grew up listening to them during their original run back in the late 80’s. Enter the Metal is not quite as polished as Prototype was, but there is no mistaking the raw energy and relentless progression to be found here. This is definitely a good start and I hear the band plans on releasing Return to the Metal in 2014, so I am keen to hear that.