REVIEW: Varga – Prototype (1993)

VARGA – Prototype (1993 BMG)

Joe Varga and crew started off as a Toronto-area thrash metal band.  There was a thriving thrash scene in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and Varga’s contribution were songs like “Mad Scientist” and “Shark Attack”.  They released an indi album (cassette only) called Multiple Wargasms.  As the 90’s progressed, Varga established a prototypical industrial metal direction, something perfectly mundane today, but hip for the time.  Like some bizarre cross between thrash metal and ZZ Top, Varga attempted to bridge the gap between machine and man.  They signed to BMG and got David Bendeth to produce them, who had just worked his magic with Sven Gali.

Varga’s major label debut was called Prototype.  As promised, it boasts a mixture of metal and industrial.  Live drums, guitars and bass mix are augmented with samples and loops.  People I knew referred to them as “Ministry Lite”, and that is as apt a description as any.  While Varga embraced technology, it didn’t seem fully incorporated into the music.  The songs are, for the most part, metal tracks with samples and effects added for embellishment.  Varga took the unusual step of listing everybody that inspired them in the credits.  Metal outnumbers industrial bands by 12-2.  Pornography had more influence on Varga than Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, according to this!

That said, when it works, it works.  “Greed” is a prime example.  Had it been a typical fast-forward thrash metal song, it still would have been good.  The electronics and looped rhythms turbo-charge the whole thing.  “Freeze Don’t Move” seems built around the loops, and features rapping and a sung chorus.  Hearing it today, I think “Hello, Linkin Park!”  But there was no Linkin Park in 1993.  These two tracks were the singles, and they are easily the best two songs on the album.   Additionally, “Freeze Don’t Move” was remixed and extended by somebody called “KRASH” (all caps).  The original is all you need, but the remix is included as a CD-only bonus track.  (Quaint concept today!)

Prototype clunks and clanks along, not like a finely tuned streamlined machine, but more like an older model with a rattle under the hood.  The musicianship is fine and dandy; Varga did not forsake guitar solos and there are several hot ones to choose from, not to mention diverse moments of instrumental brilliance.  The issue is that the rest of the material sputters inconsistently.   “The Strong”, “Unconscience”, “Thief”, “Self Proclaimed Messiah” and “Wawnah Mère” aren’t bad, and “Bring The Hammer Down” is pretty metallic.  None are memorably solid throughout; they just boast great parts here and there.

Recommended for metal historians and fans of the industrial metal sound.

3/5 stars

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27 comments

  1. Great review Mike, listening to that clip and thinking this is gooooood \m/

    Actually reminds me of the Corabi Crue era in particular the mail order EP where thet experimented some more (think Planet Boom) but what cam first the Chicken or the Trent hmmm? ;)

    Regardless never heard Vaga and will be hunting this one down thanks for reviewing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah dude I know what you mean and I agree exactly. (I haven’t reviewed Quaternary yet!) Planet Boom, and Nikki’s song Father.

    If I find some Varga cheap, you want some?

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    1. Yeah this record fer sure. Checked online and can’t believe digital copies have an asking price of $17 DownUnder bah but have found a second hand copy down here for cheap (interestingly different rear and cover arts) but thanks and will let you know if I don’t bag that one.

      Apologies too, completely forgot to post you Ceremony. It sat in my work bag after changing work places then when did remember I forgot again LOL. Equate my mid 40’s much like living in Megadeth’s song Forget To Remember LOL. Have set myself a calander reminder and will post it to you next week :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for it. There was a second album as well, but I have never heard it.

        No worries on The Cult dude, I’ll review it as soon as it gets here!

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  3. Recall Drew Masters wrapping his M.E.A.T (Magazine) around these guys…thought Greed was a decent song….I bought this but who knows where it ended up?
    Nice throwback for a Saturday read!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Man, here’s another band I knew nothing about! Where do you find this stuff??? Ha I should know better than to ask, this is Lebrain we’re talking about, here…

    Industrial metal. So hard to do correctly. Sounds like these guys tried their brst and had as many hits as misses. Fair play! Maybe they should stuck with the thrash.

    Speaking of this kind of music, maybe I oughta write up the time I saw My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult open up for Ministry in Saskatoon…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s also a very slight Faith No More influence here in some of the rapping. Just seems rather contrived and all. The fact is they reunited and went all the way back to their thrash metal roots on their newest albums.

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  5. I’ve never heard of Varga before but your review of Prototype makes me want to check them out. I get so nostalgic about the 90s lately that even just hearing “1993” makes me interested. Not sure they’ll be for me though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very much so — my wife Jen often watches those retro 90’s shows on Much More Music, and they are good for a laugh and trip down nostalgia lane. You don’t always think of bands like the Proclaimers. And those old Smashing Pumpkins tracks take me right back. The world is a vampire….

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      1. But is it just me or do the 90’s not feel quite as nostalgic, like when I remember I need get around to said album recommended a while back I often find myself thinking ‘No matter, hasn’t been out that long will get to that one soon enough’ yet it’s been over 20 years!!!!! Seriously, anything this side of 2000 feels recent LOL.

        I think with kids I’ve lost at least 10years aaaaagh :)

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