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Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 1989 | INDIE | AFM

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 1989
Band Metal Progressive


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




December 18, 2013, 10 months ago
By Carl Begai
feature varga

Hamilton, Ontario-based VARGA’s 1991 debut Multiple Wargasms was and remains so under the radar that the YouTube legions have yet to pick up on it. The band’s major minor label debut Prototype from ’94 made a huge splash for a band that had come seemingly out of nowhere, while the ’95 follow-up, Oxygen, somewhat ironically took the wind out of their sails and saw Varga fade away. Eighteen years of silence have come to an unexpected end with the return of Varga’s original line-up and Part One of a two part comeback entitled Enter The Metal. For those that remember the band fondly, you’re in for a surprise. For the newbies, call this an introduction to some more unique metal Made In Canada.

“A few years ago I had the idea of getting the guys back together just to jam,” says vocalist/bassist Joe Varga. “We went at it and started playing some of the older pre-Prototype songs, the more speed metal progressive stuff. The material on Enter The Metal is the music we created from ’89 – ’91 and all the songs have been totally reworked. The album is definitely heavier and more progressive than Prototype and Oxygen, but this is what we were doing before those albums came out. I think this type of music is more widespread these days. I find a lot more bands are doing this sort of music now compared to back then.” “I think it was just a natural thing,” Joe says of going from jamming to hitting the studio. “It just felt right to take the next step. We wanted to record these songs properly, with really good gear. It’s a two part album; the first part is Enter The Metal, the second part is Return Of The Metal which will be out in the spring. These songs were never recorded using high quality equipment, so we decided that if we want to compete with the big boys we have to make the songs sound stellar. We went to a proper studio and they just happened to acquire the Abbey Road mixing console. It was amazing.” Folks who fell for Varga through Prototype or Oxygen should go into Enter The Metal with an open mind. Otherwise, be prepared to choke on a horse pill. It’s still Varga as they were known and loved at the core, but comparisons can and will now be drawn to the likes of VOIVOD, PROTEST THE HERO and even ANNIHILATOR along the way. “Not to put those albums down, but Prototype and Oxygen were more straightforward,” says Joe. “It was metal, but the music was more streamlined and had some industrial influences because we were into the NINE INCH NAILS thing. It was a sign of the times back in the ‘90s. It took some serious rehearsing to get our chops back (laughs). But we’re definitely happier doing this stuff.” Begging the question as to why Varga stifled what is clearly some staggering musical talent when writing and recording Prototype. “That was the record company saying ‘Hey, you guys want a contract? Streamline your sound a bit and we’ll talk…’” Joe laughs. “We decided to play their game and they gave us a shot. We’ve always liked all styles of metal, and two of our biggest influences are JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN. There was nothing wrong with streamlining our grooves and going that route for a while.” A ploy that fell flat when Oxygen surfaced in 1995. Prototype yielded two minor yet popular singles – ‘Freeze, Don’t Move’ and ‘Greed’ – at a time when grunge had become a hostile takeover; Oxygen just seemed to wash over the majority of Varga fans and the scene in general.

“Oxygen was a different style of album and we were going for a different sound, a thicker sound. Prototype was a bit too polished so we wanted to thicken things up and go heavier and more industrial. There were a couple good songs on the album that I still like, but I think at that point we were losing focus with ourselves and definitely with our record company. There definitely wasn’t as much success with Oxygen as there was with Prototype.” The rejuvenated Varga went into the studio to bash out Enter The Metal and its sister album Return Of The Metal - due for release in spring 2014 - and Joe found the experience to be relatively easy in spite of the complicated material. “It wasn’t that difficult because we were well rehearsed. And we didn’t do it in little bits and pieces; it was the four of us in a big room laying down the bedtracks. We did about 10 takes of each song, listened back, and there was a little splicing that went on from take to take, more so for the bass and drums. We did the vocals and solos at a different studio.” “We were actually going to release all thee material at once, but it didn’t fit on a CD because altogether it’s over 80 minutes long," Joe adds. “So, we decided to stretch things out release it as two separate albums, with each one being about 40 minutes.” Fun fact: Joe has kept his voice in shape during the Varga-less years thanks to his other musical project. He sings in a BEE GEES tribute band. “That’s been my gig for the last 12 or 13 years, so as far as keeping my voice in shape that definitely does it. I can do the falsetto (laughs) but I don’t bring it out much with Varga, although I do blast some notes here and there.” Varga's decision to resurface now is a good one thanks to the climate of the metal world, and due to the rise of the internet as the be-all-and-end-all of communication. Rather than waiting for label people to kick things into gear, the band is able to do all the work in-house. “We’re doing everything ourselves,” Joe reveals. “All the promotion and stuff, we’re paying for it ourselves. We take care of all the website stuff, I did the graphics for the album, so we each take on various jobs to move this forward. And we have a manager that takes care of our day-to-day stuff and keeps the press lined up.” And unlike in the '90s, Varga's new music is available to a world market thanks to online promotion and exposure. “We’ve still got our hard core fans that remember the songs from before, but we’re finding that a lot of people are hooking up with us now and consider Varga new and fresh, which it is. It’s old material, sure, but it’s been reworked quite a bit.” Fans in the Hamilton area on January 15th will have the chance to hear the new songs performed live during Varga's hometown show. Don't expect to hear too much material from the past, however… “I think we’re just going to play new stuff off Enter The Metal and Return Of The Metal, and a couple covers for the encore,” says Joe. “We haven’t played those old songs in years but we’ll see what happens. Maybe we’ll give them a go.” - Brave


November 30, 2013, 11 months ago
By "Metal" Tim Henderson
Rating: 8.5

VARGA - Enter The Metal Full disclosure … VARGA and I grew up on the bad side of Hamilton mountain in the '90s when metal was on on the fence of being cool. Of course we all knew it was cool, and the band's label RCA/BMG believed it until Seattle (METAL CHURCH excluded) took matters down a different path. Varga ended up releasing two well-received albums in 1994 (Prototype) and 1996 (Oxygen).
Not certain how to term this return. Reunion? Well the band really never broke up … their paths have just crossed again as the planets have suddenly re-aligned after 13 years.

But get this straight, Varga are back in the game and make it no secret that their mission is 100% full-on aggressive power metal with plenty of thrash tendencies and the forward-thinking vision of band's like ATHEIST and CYNIC.

And its like the four-piece - Joe Varga (bass and vocals), Adam Alex (guitar), Sean Williamson (guitar), and Dan Fila (drums) - never left the garage! To The Metal is most certainly a lesson in the art of jamming, shredding, bashing and screaming for vengeance. Not that the lads are over the hill, but their youthful vitality is shocking. And yes, their influences shine, particularly IRON MAIDEN and METALLICA, and they proudly wear it on their sleeve.

Despite the fact that Enter The Metal is a re-working of old songs from an unreleased album that the band recorded before their major label deal, each track is its own riveting adventure, hardly dated, Varga in ultimate rebirth, kicking and screaming.

At times Varga's vision is a bit hard to follow (envision Jack Nicholson working through the labyrinth in The Shining), but you'll be able to find your way out, albeit a bit bruised and battered! - Brave


July 24, 2014, 3 months ago
By Kelley Simms
Rating: 8.5

VARGA - Return Of The Metal
Re-activated Canadian metal band Varga release its fourth full-length album, the follow-up to last October's Enter The Metal, with the sequel, Return Of The Metal. Comprised of members Joe Varga (bass/vocals), Adam Alex (guitar), Sean Williamson (guitar), and Dan Fila (drums), the veteran band (originally formed in 1989) gained prominence with 1994's Prototype, which spawned minor hits, "Freeze Don't Move" and "Greed,” which earned repeat plays on MTV’s Headbanger Ball back in the day. The six tracks that make up Return Of The Metal are all on the longish side. However, every track is so well-constructed with plenty of variation that they don’t lose any of its intrigue factor. The martial arts-inspired “Three Section Staff” is a furious, eight-plus minute metal rager, ending with vocalist Joe Varga’s best Rob Halford impression. The life-pondering lyrics of heavy chugger, “After Life Comes,” is reminiscent of Megadeth. In fact, Varga has the Dave Mustaine sneer down to a T. On “Disfigured Gargoyle,” the band displays the panache of Devin Townsend, the viciousness of Megadeth and the esoteric progressive thrash leanings of Powermad. Even with the cheesy lyrics on “Money Talks,” the song is a thrashing good time, complete with speedy, trade-off guitar leads. The time off the band took from 1998 to last year hasn’t hindered Varga’s songwriting or playing skills in the least. Varga has returned! - Brave


Multiple Wargasms – 1991 (Independent)

Prototype – 1994 (Zoo/BMG)

Oxygen – 1996 (Zoo/BMG)

Enter the Metal – 2013 (Vargantuan Music)

Return of the Metal – 2014 (Vargantuan Music)



VARGA is a Heavy/Progressive/Thrash
metal band from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

After some success in the early 90’s,
and after a long hiatus, Varga re-united in 2011.

Their two new releases, ENTER THE METAL
(2013) and RETURN OF THE METAL (2014), showcase the band’s return to their pure
heavy metal roots.

When you’re born and bred in a city that’s nicknamed “The Hammer”, it
goes without saying that you will be raised on a healthy dose of metal music.
For Sabbath, it was Birmingham, England. For Varga, that place is Canada’s
Steeltown - Hamilton, Ontario.

The ties between Joe Varga (bass and vocals) and Dan Fila (drums) are
as far reaching as grade school. But it was in their teens when they would
begin receiving local recognition as a fearsome rhythm section. After adding
Adam Alex (guitar) and later, Sean Williamson (guitar), the once Glendale based
outfit did what all aspiring young bands do. They bought an old beat up bread
truck and hit the road playing covers on the local Ontario bar scene.

It was during this dues-paying time when the four realized they could
make a sound all of their own. “It was a hybrid – we had progressive influences
from early Rush and heavy influences from Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer and the
classics Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden and fused it into a
progressive metal sound,” recalls Joe Varga.

Armed with a couple of cassette releases, Varga caught the attention of
the A&R department at BMG Canada and left home to tour the continent. “When
we got to the major label, we were a little more streamlined and straight
forward metal but they were good songs and we enjoyed doing it. The ‘90s were a
crazy time for heavy metal – it was kind of clashing with the whole grunge
thing so we just did what we wanted to do at the time. We started incorporating
a little more of an industrial sound to it. We got to tour a lot through Canada
and the States, did some shows with White Zombie, opened up for Metallica and
we got a lot of roadwork.”

Getting signed to the major labels and becoming regulars on MuchMusic
and MTV – including a thumbs up feature from the Mike Judge animated icons
“Beavis and Butthead” – seemed to secure the band’s place in the Canadian hard
rock music canon but after their 1993 PROTOTYPE and 1996 CDs, the band simply
faded out of the spotlight.

The band never officially broke up, just focused on different things
and still remained good friends over the years. Fila and Williamson would help
form HYPODUST (with Julius Butty, Terry D’Andrea, and Marko Lubarda). The
members of Varga even maintained their collective talents as SUPERBLASTER,
offering awe–inspiring album recreations (with Julius Butty on vocals) from
Black Sabbath, Metallica and Iron Maiden. When I witnessed their version of
Maiden, the question only was with this kind of talent, why hadn’t Varga
continued making music?

“We just parted ways for a while and that while turned into 13 years,”
explains Varga. “It’s always been on my mind to get the guys back together and
go back to square one and re-work some of our earlier stuff – the more
technical, thrashy, progressive metal. That’s where we’re at right now.

Recorded at both Six Nations’ JUKASA STUDIO, and Silo Studios with
Julius Butty (Protest The Hero, Alexisonfire) producing, two new CD’s titled
ENTER THE METAL and RETURN OF THE METAL were released from Varga in October of
2013 and May of 2014.