Varga – ‘Return Of The Metal’ (Vargantuan)
Genre: Traditional Metal
After a more than 15 year hiatus between albums, the Canadian band Varga regrouped and released their comeback effort last year. They quickly follow up with Return Of The Metal.
Varga have a classic sound with great guitar work and plenty of catchy melodies. The songs also have lengthy instrumental passages, giving the band a chance to show their chops. Joe Varga has a dynamic voice, generally singing with an edge, but breaking out the falsetto from time to time. But it’s guitarists Adam Alex and Sean Williamson who are the stars of the show, getting extended exposure and making the most of it.
What’s up horrorsuckles, \m/iki Dom with you tonight to talk to you about one of my favorite band ever… A band that isn’t scared to bring you in your face progressive thrash metal and keep it alive.
Tonight the marbles go to:
Varga is one of the Canadian bands that has the longest history on the whole Canadian metal scene. Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario it’s in that very city that the band formed back in 1989… Kicking ass in local bars it’s in 1991 that they finally lay their first tracks on tape and release their first demo cassette Multiple Wargasm, a cassette that I still own hahahaha, That gave them the chance to play multiple shows and get themselves notice which leads them to a major record company deal with BMG in 1993 that’s when they recorded the amazing Prototype album, which presented a new more industriel oriented sound… I was a bit far from their original progessive thrash sound but was still interesting it got them a few notification like being in nomination at the Canadian Juno Awards for best rock act… They retaliate in 1995 with Oxygen an album that was more oriented on their roots then its predecessor… which kinda confused the fan base in a way because it was a rather big difference… In 1998 the band decided to call it a day and went on a hiatus that lasted for more than 10 years… but finally it’s in 2011 that the guys recontacted one another and clearly saw that there still was something there and decided to start making music together again and in 2013 they released their first album in a long while the amazin Enter The Metal a straight up progressive thrash metal album like only them can make! Which brings up to May 2014 when they released their brand new opus which i’m going to talk to you about tonight Return Of The Metal
Back when the band started out the Thrash metal sound was at its popularity peak with the rise of Metallica and all so with that in perspective these boys were bound for glory… But then the 90′s hit and with it came a new blend of rockers moslty from and around seattle and from that new blend came Grunge and bands like Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam which are all amazing bands but they made the heavy rock sound drift into a completely new and different direction… based more on everyday life and slower guitar oriented riff…. and from that some bands that used to label themselves Thrash suddenly changed for other thing like Crossover or Grindcore but just a little portion of the bands on the scene dared to raise the Thrash banner highly and proudly… bands like Testament, Exodus and of course Varga… Progressive thrash always had a hard time making a name for itself because of the complixity of its stuctures… people just didnt get it and in my opinion that’s just sad because there were amazing work in that field… like Queensrÿche of the Mindcrime/Empire era and even some of their older work like Rage For Order was amazing and listen to Geoff Tate on those albums and tell me he is not an amazing vocalist… I DARE YA!!!! Well all of this to say that the new decade made it hard on bands that started at the end of the Thrash era and made them have to reinvent themselves in a way but some just said no and stuck to their original sound… It worked for some and was a bit harder for other… Varga tried to some new stuff which worked in a way leading them to some recognition but in my opinion their original sound is where they shine the most…
The Return Of The Metal album brings them back to their good ol’ Prog Thrash meets New Wave Of British Heavy Metal sound made popular by bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest… Which is a relief it feels nice to hear the classic sound that made those bands what they are today…
The album opens with the great 8 minutes epic Three Section Staff which is a great kickstarter to this great album, i love the staccato riff and palm muted guitar… Great work comes out of the Disfugured Gargoyle song too which is the fastest and most aggressive song on the album a well received thrash in your face blend of fast paced guitars and pounding drums pretty impressive! … My two favorite song on the album are Money Talks because well it is just so true… You got money you got the whole world in your hand… You don’t have money well you can just die who cares… Well it is the sad truth of the world we live in today… and This songs boasts my favorite guitar riff of the whole album it’s pure it’s true… it’s Thrash damn it! and I welcome it with arms widely open! BRING IT OOOONNN!!!! and clocking at 7 minutes this epic is a true salute to the band’s prog roots! and the album closes with my favorite song Far East Super Slaughter… Fast as hell… Complicated… just a tad… An amazing bassline also which is pretty great and pretty rare coming from a Thrash metal band cause usually in this particular sub-genre they tend to leave the bass aside… (…And Justice For All… Ring a bell…) and it also got the best vocal lines of the whole album! Let’s talk about those vocals while we are on the subject… Singer Joe Varga has one of the best voice in the biz and sooooo suited for the job with his awesome blend of Testament’s Chuck Billy ballsy strong metal pounder voice and Gamma Ray (ex-Helloween)’s Kai Hansen‘s more angelic and soft melodic metal voice it’s just the right amount of both it’s pretty great and rare… really something to check out for sure!
The album in general is pretty great it has amazing work on every aspects and you guys should really check it out… The only flaws comes from the production side again… Sometimes drums are just badly mixed some snares are too loud and too low, some high frequencies that should’ve been cut aren’t and also some of the rhythm guitars are way too dimmed in the mix so it really annoys my ears… But i have to said that the vocal is perfect P-E-R-FECT it’s completely flawless and this is a rare achievement in these days! and all of that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out because you should this is still a great album worth discovering! so here is my quote
\m/iki’s seal of approval 8.5/10
These production flaws really did bad for the band in my opinion because they are amazing musicians but bad sounding albums aren’t fun to listen to and at least harder to listen to so… it’s a bit sad but it’s still great and i will still keep on listening to it and you should to haha!
Well with all that said that’s all for me folks I hope you enjoyed this little review and well this was \m/iki Dom saying good night, take care and stay metalheads!
Re-activated Canadian metal band Varga release its fourth full-length album, the follow-up to last October’s Enter The Metal, with the sequel, Return Of The Metal. Comprised of members Joe Varga (bass/vocals), Adam Alex (guitar), Sean Williamson (guitar), and Dan Fila (drums), the veteran band (originally formed in 1989) gained prominence with 1994’s Prototype, which spawned minor hits, “Freeze Don’t Move” and “Greed,” which earned repeat plays on MTV’s Headbanger Ball back in the day. The six tracks that make up Return Of The Metal are all on the longish side. However, every track is so well-constructed with plenty of variation that they don’t lose any of its intrigue factor. The martial arts-inspired “Three Section Staff” is a furious, eight-plus minute metal rager, ending with vocalist Joe Varga’s best Rob Halford impression. The life-pondering lyrics of heavy chugger, “After Life Comes,” is reminiscent of Megadeth. In fact, Varga has the Dave Mustaine sneer down to a T. On “Disfigured Gargoyle,” the band displays the panache of Devin Townsend, the viciousness of Megadeth and the esoteric progressive thrash leanings of Powermad. Even with the cheesy lyrics on “Money Talks,” the song is a thrashing good time, complete with speedy, trade-off guitar leads. The time off the band took from 1998 to last year hasn’t hindered Varga’s songwriting or playing skills in the least. Varga has returned!
YAY! Local Toronto metal! I’m not sure if “Return Of The Metal” implies that this is Varga’s RETURN (its certainly possible but I don’t know), but what does become clear evident is their loves, as they wear their influences directly on their sleeve, opening on a sample from a Bruce Lee film, even including a delicious ‘HI-YAH!’ before going headfirst into groovy heavy metal, with big hooks in the vein of Iced Earth or even “The Formation Of Damnation”-era Testament. The music leans to some interesting places to, hinting at prog metal in the dynamic of ‘Three Section Staff’, including some weird industrial-like flurries here and there. ‘After Life Comes’ hints at progressive tendencies at well in its opening and groovy riffs, and packs some awesome bass-work to boot, and ‘Evil Drifters’ rings with some great guitar and bass trade-offs, which of course build up some wicked harmonies as a result. The instrumentation is definitely a highlight, but vocals certainly carry their weight as well, opting for some great modern Accept-like hooks with power metal flair and classic metal range. “Return Of The Metal” is a very solid metal album, and while it may not be the most original, it still has lots of strong riffs and hooks to dig into. If this an apparent ‘return’ for Varga, it’s a damn good one.
Tony @ The Dedicated Rocker Society/All Access Magazine
Canadian Progressive Metal band, Varga return with their latest release, ‘Return Of The Metal’. A recording that emphasizes intense guitar interplay, aggression, atmosphere and enough riveting time changes to satisfy even the most demanding progressive metal fan.
The album was produced by long time friend and producer/engineer, Julius “Juice” Butty (Alexisonfire, Protest the Hero), and recorded at both Six Nations’ Jukasa Studio, and Butty’s own Silo Studios. Varga is comprised of, Joe Varga – Bass & Vocals, Adam Alex – Guitar, Sean Williamson – Guitar and Dan Fila – Drums. The Varga groove is still there, but the music has gone to another level. Maybe, Progressive/Thrash metal. The songs sound even heavier and aggressive than some on the band’s prior releases, albeit with more melody. Unexpected time changes still come around with this band, leaving you guessing where it will go next. As soon as the album starts playing and “Three Section Staff” comes on you know your going to be in for a treat! There is no fillers what so ever on this album, some songs are stronger than others, but still a very strong and intense effort. Other highlights; “After Life Comes”, “Evil Drifters” and “Far East Super Slaughter”.’Return Of The Metal’ rocks on all levels, great progressive metal and rock. Some real nice crunch and heavy guitars and great musicianship all around. Production is good. The mix to me sounds great, especially the vocals and guitars. With an onslaught of amazing lyrics and a powerful, well controlled vocal delivery. Joe Varga’s vocals makes this album have high replay value. The guitar interplay between, Adam Alex and Sean Williamson is out of this world! Dan Fila’s drumming is awesome as well. How can I forget?! When I was listening to the album, I remember saying he sounds like Mike Portnoy in his prime. The entire band just rips the album to shreds. Love the album art as well. Really pulled me into the album, then facilitated the mood.
If you love Prog Rock/Metal and have own any of the older Varga albums then ‘Return Of The Metal’ is a “Must Have”. – Highly Recommended