Anybody out there feeling a little less than blessed and possessed after last year’s Powerwolf release? Well, not too long ago I caught another pack of wolves sniffing around the AMG headquarters and being the old softy I am, I let them stay a spell. Turns out they’re an interesting lot. Varg‘s first full-length—a combination of melodic metal reminiscent of Graveworm, mixed with Ensiferum folksiness and Frosttide melody—hit the shelves back in 2007, fronted by Sebastian “Geri” Feick. This formula didn’t last, with Geri moving on, leaving Phillip “Freki” Seiler and Timo “Managarm” Schwämmlein (of Sintech fame) to handle Varg‘s vocal duties. By the time Guten Tag found its way onto the shelves, these wolves were forcefully fighting the sting of being labelled gothcore and blatant neglect of good dynamics. The arrival of 2016 finds the tides turning for Varg, now signed to Napalm Records. Das Ende aller Lügen (The End of All Lies) is here and with it Varg presents their latest direction—one encouraging impulsivity, unpredictability, revelry and brute force. All packaged in nice, bright red war paint.
Das Ende aller Lügen gets off to an interesting start, kicking off with “Der große Diktator,” which translates to The Great Dictator. Behind the atmosphere of menace and the delicate background music, an excerpt plays out from the 1940s American satirical political comedy-drama film written, directed, produced, scored by and starring Charlie Chaplin. As the song comes to a close, and a tyrannical Dictator ends off his impassioned speech, you’re left with this: “Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!” This is an intelligent start to an album and it hooked me into listening to the rest of Das Ende aller Lügen.
The tracks that follow are catchy and packed with revelry, as promised. However, as a combined effort they end up a definitive guide to who’s-who in European metal. “Das Ende aller Lügen” hints at the catchiness of Avatar. “Revolution” begins slowly, but soon crests with a thrashtastic Kreator wave made for windmilling hair and that’ll probably be responsible for a circle pit or two when the band takes this show on the road. “Streyfzug” (or Ramble) begins with what sounds like the intro to The Troggs “Wild Thing,” before moving into territory carved out by melodic metallers Parasite Inc. “Achtung” (or Danger) launches with angle grinder sharpness that brings to mind Satan’s Wrath, before picking up once again with the neue Deutsche härte (or new German hardness) synonymous to scene frontrunners, Rammstein. “Einherjer” is a return to a mix of Satan’s Wrath and Parasite Inc with moments of melody akin to modern era In Flames.
Apart from “Achtung” being such a noticeable and memorable anthem, it’s around “Totentanz” where things really get shaken up. Roughly translated, “Totentanz” means Dance of Death or the Danse Macabre, a phrase referring to the late-medieval allegory on the universality of death “no matter one’s station in life, the Dance of Death unites all.” Opening up with some remarkable similarities to Celtic Frost‘s “Danse Macabre” the track moves on to showcase an Avatar-like catchiness behind the vocals of Anna Murphy (Eluveitie). Vocally, Anna’s charming chants contrast to Freki and or Managarm’s core-ish screams, and the track would fit well alongside Eluveitie‘s “Havoc” released with Helvetios. “Ascheregen” brings Das Ende aller Lügen to a schizophrenic, sobering and destructive Katatonia-paced close.
Das Ende aller Lügen has a bombastic, modern sound quality that hits you bluntly. What disappoints me is the one-dimensional feel that creeps in from Varg‘s brick-walled master. Moments that should sound mighty don’t hit their mark, and soft intricacies are just lost in the brutality of it all. Contrasting vocals are the name of the game on this album, though, and that sound works. Vocally, Freki and Managarm punish listeners with a mix of metalcore screams and clean singing which, despite being in German, prove pretty catchy; try not to chant along with “Achtung.” Freki and Managarm’s vocals are big, loud and passionate. Instrumentally, Varg are able to take you from fist-pumping to somber on a single track. The instrumentation is tight and balanced, showing good band chemistry. Each song comes wrapped in compelling guitar solos that stand out as short, catchy and well-delivered, driven together with well-timed and interesting fills and drum lines.
Love or hate the core-like vocals or the fact that like Avatar‘s Black Waltz and Hail the Apocalypse or Deathstars The Perfect Cult, Das Ende aller Lügen is packed with 10 tracks all well under the 5-minute mark that are catchy as hell and probably a bit too radio friendly for their own good. These blunders, along with the crushed dynamics, are be the album’s biggest downfall. As a whole I’ve enjoyed Das Ende aller Lügen far more than I ever expected to. That said, I’m off to give “Achtung” another spin!