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.