Canadian metal band VARGA hail from the late 80s, and “Return Of The Metal” is their fourth album (with the previous “Enter The Metal” having been released not even a year ago in October 2013.) The band brings a heavy sound that I can only really describe as “prog-thrash” with a nice modern sound and complex musicianship.
“Three Section Staff” kicks things off, with a heavy and almost dissonant sounding intro riff with some minor harmonies involved before breaking into a really heavy main riff. This feels more on the extreme end of the thrash spectrum, with plenty of mad riffs and quite a heavy sound. The vocals are quite good, with some deeper yet melodic moments that meet with HALFORD-esque higher screams later on. Plenty of different moments here, with meaty riff upon meaty riff and a nice variety of sounds going on, with a section that sounds like a brass instrument too. It is quite cool to see a band opening up an album with an 8 minute epic track, and they keep it interesting throughout.
“After Life Comes” gives us an awesome bass intro, with guitars feeding back over the top, before slamming into its mad main riff. This is another full on one, with lots of technical guitar playing and lengthy instrumental moments between vocals, with another cool bass moment later on as well.
“Disfigured Gargoyle” is another twisting and turning track with some really awesome bass playing on it with some great tense drumming too. There’s lot of great aggressive vocals on this one as well, meeting with the skillful guitars that with the band as a whole present a really tight sound.
“Evil Drifters” is yet another insane sounding track, with crazy scale riffage starting off the song, before it goes into heavy chugging afterwards, with a cool chorus layering vocals with a background guitar in a really cool way; there’s plenty of heaviness on this track as you’d come to expect by this point.
“Money Talks” kicks off with more of a grooving riff, but at 7 minutes long there’s plenty more on offer from this one, from speedy chugging riffs to the rounds of awesome solos throughout. This one has a nice tense pacing and some cool guitar harmonies too. This one was one of my highlights, with a lot to offer the listener even on album with a lot going on already.
“Far East Super Slaughter” finishes up the album with some more epic riffage, though not quite as long a song. This one has lots of really cool vocals, with a good sense of pacing throughout. It’s a good ending to the album, telling an interesting story lyrically and with a good amount of different riffs and moments too.
The production is pretty good, with a modern sound that keeps a bit of old school thrash in it. The mix is pretty good, the vocals and guitars in particular, and it’s nice to hear the bass which supports the drums and blends in well.
Overall, this is a really good release, with such a short time between releases, many bands fail to keep up the momentum so easily, but this one does, with lots of challenging playing and good songs throughout, performed well by a skillful band.