Varg – Blutaar (NoiseArt Records)

Monday, 18th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Not to be confused with ‘ole Varg Vikernes (we’re probably the 800th publication to make this connection – sorry), Germany’s Varg throw their name into the Pagan/epic metal ring with the bludgeoning Blutaar. Sounding like a more feisty, less majestic Thyrfing, Varg come across as one of the more rough and rigid bands of this ilk, resulting in a mostly satisfying, if not promising debut.

Eschewing most of the epic bombast and folk instrumentation of their peers, Varg is able to push melodically-intense songs like “Sieg oder Niedergang” and “Invictus” into familiar, albeit comfortable territory. There’s no shortage of hearty, pile-driving riffs – just reference the opening surge of the title track, the expansive “Wilde Jagd” and the Amon Amarth-esque “Alter Feind,” which eventually descends into a whirl of black metal that ranks as perhaps the most inspired moment during this 11-song effort.

The throaty, ugly spew of singer Freki makes most of these songs boiling with the intensity of several loin-cloth donning warriors and when he yelps to the sky during the closing moments of “Blutdienst II,” it becomes evident that perhaps Varg aren’t just trying to cash in on this movement. And thankfully, there are no clean vocal exercises or spoken-word sections. Those have gotten out of hand.

As for the note about how familiar Blutaar sounds, it is not the double-edged sword as it may sound. Rather, the album runs parallel with some of the early moments of this style, back when Enslaved were raw and ragged, Amon Amarth were still finding their way, and the aforementioned Thyrfing were still young and brash. When stacked up against the ho-hum portrayers of the Pagan/epic metal sound, Blutaar proves to dangerous, if not more recommended than 90% of the stuff out there.

www.myspace.com/varghorde

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)