"Return of the Metal"

By Dr. Abner Mality

It doesn't even seem like six months since I checked out the last Varga album "Enter the Metal". Here we have "Return of the Metal", with the same look to the cover, a similar title and virtually the same format....six long, involved tunes of precision technical thrash. I would be surprised if this album wasn't recorded during the same sessions that yielded "Enter the Metal".

Nevertheless, I find Varga to be an entertaining band. There's simply not too many acts playing this style of Megadeth/Annihilator progressive thrash. These guys throw a multitude of time and riffing changes at you within their tunes, keeping you on your toes and they've also got plenty of almost Satriani-like soloing to delight shred fans out there. If you got "Enter the Metal", you will know the style EXACTLY because Varga do not deviate from it at all here. "Three Section Staff", a tribute to the old Shaw Brothers kung fu classics, is a fun way to kick things off with a barrage of twisting riffs. Lyrically these guys don't seem to take themselves too seriously, with songs influenced by various B-movies. When they do try to make a statement, as on "Money Talks", they wind up sounding kind of foolish. But that song is one of the best on show, along with "After Life Comes" and "Evil Drifters".

It's kind of an acquired taste, especially Joe Varga's nasal vocals and the style is off the beaten path, but Varga is not a band to overlook or underestimate.