Review: Varg “Zeichen” [Napalm Records]

Review: Varg “Zeichen” [Napalm Records]

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The last Varg‘s album Das Ende aller Lügen was released four years ago, in 2016. In this time the band released EP Götterdämmerung, changed the line-up and revisited the band’s concept, coming back to their Pagan roots and Scandinavian mythology. So welcome renewed Varg with their new, seventh album called Zeichen (signs).

Actually, the precursor of such coming back was re-release of the band’s first album, Wolfszeit II in 2019 while the line-up wasn’t finally approved (two members, Hati and Managarm leaved the band in 2018 and play in Oceans now). So the new Varg‘s line-up is: Freki (vocals), Fenrier (drums), Garm (rhythm-guitar) and Morkai (solo-guitar). In 2020 vocalist Fylgja also joined the band – it’s a first time when female vocalist joins Varg as a full member, if I remember right.

The band changed not only musically but also lyrically and visually. Now the lyrics dedicated to Vikings – not only battles and carnage but also traditions, way of life and Northern Gods, of course. Black and red corpse paint also changed with blood spatter and traditional clothes with runes on leather body armour. Altogether, everything indicates that Varg approached to their redefinition very serious.

Acoustic guitar with birds shrieking on the background rapidly change with brutal Death Metal riffs and Freki’s grows – that’s how “793” (a year marked the Vikings era) opens an album. Of course, there is a melodism inherent to Varg, though it’s differs from some catchy melodic moment that were present in abundance on previous album. However, speaking about the melody it’s impossible to pass by “Wildes Heer”, which in my opinion is closest to the “old” Varg, heavy and melodic at the same time.

“Schildwall” with a mix of growling and screaming takes the listener to the Viking Metal territory, somewhere close to Amon Amarth. And “Auf die Götter” is recognizable Death Metal from Varg with Freki’s scream, fast drumming, solid riffs and lots of Folk Metal elements in catchy chorus. In the middle of the song musicians give the listener a break, leaving only guitar with folk melody but soon heavy sound and brutality are back until the end of the songs.

A short interlude “Rán”, surprisingly atmospheric and quite, introduces Fylgja’s vocal, feminine and beautiful. In the next “Fara til Ránar” her vocal already sounds with guitars and drums, contrasting greatly with Melodic Death Metal and Freki’s screaming. As for me, Fylgja is a real discovery for Varg.

The second half of Zeichen is much darker: “Feld del Ehre” starts slowly and gradually turns into mid-tempo and not so melodic Death Metal. “Wanderer” in its turn sounds very aggressive and malice, without any melody. But the darkest (and the longest) song in the album is “Verräter”, where Death and Black Metal combined with melody (which makes the song even darker), the pace changes a couple of times and Freki goes from screaming to growling and back.

Closing self-titled “Zeichen” is some kind of quintessence of “new” Varg: the sound of wind and wolves’ howls changed with brutal guitars and double pedals. Fylgja’s voice contrasts with Freki’s extreme vocals and as a result we have a mighty, epic track with great melody. Acoustic guitar in the end of the song loops the album, serving as some kind of Ouroboros.

In the end I want to cite Freki himself: “In Norse mythology, the earth cleanses itself in fire and rises from the ashes – Zeichen is the rebirth of Varg and this is truth. This album will hardly make a revolution in Metal but for the band it’s a huge step forward. It’s always hard to leave the comfort zone, especially when it’s not only yours but your fans too. Nevertheless, Varg dared to do it and they succeeded.

Zeichen will be released on September, 18 via Napalm Records.

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