Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Varg: Guten Tag (2012)

Windir Meets Dark Tranquillity?

Review by Patrick, proprietor of Beards, Etc.

Varg are a German group who play what I would loosely call either pagan metal or black metal. They have been pretty productive recently, releasing three albums in the past three years. In October they released their fourth full-length record, Guten Tag.

This is kind of an odd record. Its Viking themes and black metal roots, combined with a fairly conservative pace, make it seem like this would be pretty easily defined and understood. But it's not. Most metal in this vein strives for a natural, rugged, ancient feel so as to evoke the windswept north and the exploits of its barbarian subjects. This, though, sounds decidedly and purposefully modern. The upbeat rhythm to the music, the clear and accessible guitar work, and the vocals that seem to drift into melodeath territory with surprising frequency all contribute to this impression. It's not melodic death metal, but it plays like it's trying to bridge the gap between Windir and Dark Tranquillity.

The exact sound and approach varies from song to song, with some having decidedly more of a folk vibe, while others have no traces of the traditional trappings. This is good insofar as it keeps things interesting and it provides for a varied listening experience. On the other hand, it is problematic because it makes it really hard to get a bead on this for long enough to really decide how to feel about what you're hearing. There are tracks, "A Thousand Eyes" for example, that I absolutely loved. I would gladly listen to a record full of that style of material again and again. But there are other songs, like the title track, that I find kind of annoying and which don't even feel like they belong on the same album.

In the end, I can't really blast this to pieces, because it's got some great material and it takes an unusual approach rather than just rehashing all the tropes of the sub-genre. On the other hand, I can't really praise it too highly because it's just too uneven and often their different approach is clearly outside the norm for a reason. I will say that I'm glad I heard it, and some tracks will likely enter my regular listening rotation. I'm pretty sure I won't feel compelled to listen to the album in its entirety again, though.

The Verdict: 3 out of 5 stars

Buy Guten Tag


  1. This is another one both of us reviewed. I think I had a similar view of it.

  2. My oversight that they didn't get posted the same day. I'll get that one up forthwith.