Varg – Guten Tag (Napalm Records/NoiseArt)

Wednesday, 27th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

The sound of a car rolling to a stop, footsteps, followed by knock on the door, then…“guten tag!” HELLO! It’s Varg at your door:

This is how Varg’s fourth album, Guten Tag begins, creating a rare visual “what if?” moment. What would you do if these savory lads showed up on your front step? Blistering would probably do a double-take, restrain the dog, and offer them some food. Hopefully they like Chex Mix and gluten-free snacks. Pagan metal + Chex Mix….there’s a combo for you.

Guten Tag follows the band’s 2011’s Wolfskult, which somehow we missed. Nevertheless, the Germans do an excellent job of honoring the prime tenants of Pagan folk metal, providing a bit more zest than some of their contemporaries. This is embodied in the high-flying melodies heard on “Frei wie der Wind,” an immediate highlight that follows the boisterous title track. “Was nicht dar” carries some broad-based riffing, mainly of the hefty variety, successfully mixed with subtle leads and the throaty cadence of singer Freki.

A triumphant angle is explored on “Angriff,” which makes sense considering Varg’s choice of epic metal weapon. The band’s ability to keep their songs sharp without resorting to tomfoolery (read: all-around goofiness) is what keeps Guten Tag moving, with the good-time shuffle of “A Thousand Eyes” emerging as the album’s highlight, while tried-and-true expeditions such as “Leben” and “Anti” giving the album some power toward the back-end.

Set to hit North America this winter as part of the killer Wintersun/Eluveitie bill, Varg’s chances of making Tyr-like strides in this territory are given merit thanks to Guten Tag’s strength. With just the right mixture of off-beat jolliness and hardened epic metal, Varg should have zero problems making a dent across the globe. If not, they know where you live, and they’ll show up to make you pay for it…

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