Review & Full Album Premiere: Varego, I Prophetic

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

varego i prophetic

[Click play above to stream I Prophetic by Varego in full. It’s out Feb. 15 on Argonauta Records.]

Sure, Varego have the piano intro. Sure, they have all kinds of progressive nuance. They’ve got the six-and-a-half-minute title-track full of Voivodian sci-fi weirdo crunch. They’ve got the off-in-the-distance, spaciously-mixed vocals of bassist Davide Marcenaro. But you know, listen to the start of that title-track, or to the central riff from Alberto Pozzo and Gerolamo Lucisano of “When the Wolves,” or the intensity of Simon Lepore‘s drum changes in closer “Zodiac,” and Varego are still very much a metal band. Shades of Judas Priest can be heard throughout in Pozzo‘s and Lucisano‘s guitars, and while they’re definitely just shades — since it’s not like Varego are carbon-copying, well, anyone — that gives the clean 36-minute run of I Prophetic a foundation from which it’s working its way out. I don’t think they’d call it space metal or cosmic metal — the latter somehow would imply less psychedelia, so might fit as a tag, though “Zodiac” and others do touch on the ethereal as well — but it’s definitely in that nebulous region where “progressive” becomes a catchall standing in for saying the band are conscious of what they’re doing as songwriters.

There are eight tracks on the Argonauta-released I Prophetic, counting the aforementioned piano intro “Origin,” and while they open with the catchiest of them in “The Abstract Corpse” and thereby answer the question of what might’ve been if Primordial had been from Mars instead of Ireland with a fervent forward drive that stands tall among any of those to follow — at least before they hit the brakes — the Italian four-piece subsequently find themselves expanding parameters of structure and sound alike on the title-track and only continue to go further out from there. Regardless of genre, one might read I Prophetic as a kind of linear path. Following the brooding “Silent Giants,” which opens the second half, “When the Wolves” provides some measure of grounding, but still, it’s clear by that point that there’s really no coming back, and the closing wallop of “Duelist” and “Zodiac” bear that out.

So what is it? It can’t just be the echo on Marcenaro‘s vocals. Looking back to 2016’s Epoch (review here), their second album, it seems like I Prophetic has a tighter, sharper overall approach. Its songs are more sure of their purpose, and that underlying foundation of metal weaves itself like a thread throughout the tracklisting. One can hear that even on side A capper “Of Dust,” which moves from its initial progression toward more expansive fare while still holding to a core groove in the drums and bass. The interplay of the two guitars is definitely part of it, and the breadth of the mix is definitely part of it, but as “Of Dust” ends with a guitar solo, there’s still something so intentionally traditional-metal about the proceedings. Craft has definitely become more of a factor for Varego, though, and as the abiding buzz of the guitars work alongside the drifting bassline at the mellow-but-tense outset of “Silent Giants,” the sense of atmosphere becomes all the more prevalent.

varego

After “When the Wolves,” which at 3:03 is the shortest non-intro inclusion here, that continues into “Duelist” as well, and the more Varego depart from their sludgy beginnings, the more they seem to find themselves out there in the cosmos, frozen like in some lump of comet ice charting an irregular orbit all their own. Individualism suits them, unsurprisingly, but one doesn’t necessarily get the feeling they’re done growing. “The Abstract Corpse” howls into its barrage after its quick drum-fill introduction, and together with “I Prophetic” itself, it forms a statement of purpose that’s varied and rich, not without melody, but coated in effects — the title-track will earn them some Monolord comparisons, particularly as it moves into a bigger riff after the verse around the two-minute mark — and working on its own level. The end stemming from their means isn’t entirely clear yet, but the unsettling element of I Prophetic — its refusal to simply be one thing; metal or sludge, progressive or traditional — is part of its appeal and in the end, the basis for its success.

With Epoch, Varego made the transition from a five- to a four-piece lineup. With I Prophetic, they refine their approach to a striking degree, making it all the more their own and all the more intricate. Even “When the Wolves,” which is the most willfully straightforward thrasher included, has a level of sonic detail that begs for multiple listens and a kind of mental dissection: “What are they doing here?” The answer to that question, though, requires stepping back and taking the album in its entirety. What they’re doing is melding heavy metal to their own purposes. It’s not about homage to the past so much as building off the past, their own as well as that of others. It takes time for a band to discover who they really are in terms of sound — and, I suppose, everything else — but it feels like Varego have found themselves here, and like I Prophetic works so fluidly across its span to move outward from where it begins, one would expect the band to do no less their next time out in continuing to progress along the line they’re drawing.

A key, perhaps telling moment is shortly before three minutes into “Zodiac,” when the song hangs a left and slows down in the guitar, vocals layering over what’s clearly the final march. They ring out for a while to end it, but before that, they stake their claim on a marked distance from where they started out in “The Abstract Corpse,” and the spectrum they’ve run in that time — still an utterly manageable 36 minutes — is an accomplishment unto itself. Do I think they’re done growing? No. This kind of progressive songwriting rarely stagnates. But I Prophetic serves a crucial function as that moment of arrival for them, and of course thereby sets up the inevitable departure to follow. Varego have come into their own. What they do now is entirely up to them.

Varego on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

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Varego Set Feb. 15 Release for I Prophetic; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

varego

I’m planning to review Varego‘s third full-length, I Prophetic, closer to its release in the New Year, so I’ll spare you the overblown whatnot, but as the band hits the decade-mark in 2019, they do so having really come into their own in terms of sound. Their prior outing, 2016’s Epoch (review here), was directed and well executed, but also marked by a change in dynamic from a five-piece to a four-piece, and with I Prophetic, the band seem ready to move forward with their sci-fi-infused progressive metallurgy as it is here. You can get a taste in the post-intro opener “The Abstract Corpse,” which is streaming at the bottom of this post, and basically consider this advance warning for what’s to come. The PR wire is not wrong in the Voivod comparison, but there are aspects at work as well here from sludge and post-metal that add nuance to the prog-thrash roots.

It’s interesting stuff. More to come.

For now:

varego i prophetic

VAREGO UNVEIL FIRST DETAILS ABOUT UPCOMING ALBUM!

+ Premiere Brand New Song!

Born in 2009 in Arenzano, Genova, after their previous and critically acclaimed full-lengths and a 2013- ‘Blindness Of The Sun’ EP, Italian heavy sludge rockers VAREGO return with their forthcoming album titled ‘I Prophetic’ in February 2019!

On their third album, the band will deliver eight new songs of unrelentless energy and fury, unceasing guitar riffing, yet built on progressive structures with a sort of cinematic touch and take us on their voivodian, atmospheric trip and a sound journey through space, dimensions, minds and avant-garde chaos. Today, the band is not only sharing a first glimpse while they have just unveiled the artwork, tracklist and release date with us, VAREGO have also just celebrated the premiere of a first track taken from ‘I Prophetic’!

Says the band: “We’re so much excited to reveal the first details of our forthcoming album. This one represents for us a huge goal of our history, celebrating our first decade. This first single is the sum-up of our actual influences, that generate our particular sound made of heavy sonorities, progressive pursuits and Sludge drifts. “The Abstract Corpse” is the song that today represents VAREGO at its best, with its tempo changes, compelling vocal lines and guitars ridings, we could not be more happy!”

The tracklist of ‘I Prophetic’ will read as follows:
1. Origin
2. The Abstract Corpse
3. I Prophetic
4. Of Dust
5. Silent Giants
6. When the Wolves Howl
7. Duelist
8. Zodiac

Set for a release on February 15th 2019 with rising label Argonauta Records, the pre-order for the band’s upcoming CD & Vinyl formats is now available:

Bundles: www.argonautarecords.com/shop/en/home/313-varego-i-prophetic-lp-cd.html
LP: www.argonautarecords.com/shop/en/home/312-varego-i-prophetic-lp.html
CD: www.argonautarecords.com/shop/en/cd/311-varego-i-prophetic-cd.html

VAREGO are:
Davide Marcenaro – Voice/Bass
Alberto Pozzo – Guitar
Gerolamo Lucisano – Guitar
Simon Lepore – Drums

www.facebook.com/varego
www.varego.bandcamp.com
www.argonautarecords.com

Varego, “The Abstract Corpse”

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The Obelisk Presents: Volume! Nov. 17 in Viareggio, Italy

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on November 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

No secret at this point that I enjoy presenting shows in foreign lands. Places I’ve never been and may never be so fortunate as to go — to have The Obelisk reach somewhere I can’t is huge for me. I’ve partnered with Argonauta Fest before, which is of course run by Argonauta Records, and as that festival blueprint expands with the exclamatory four-band evening Volume! in Viareggio, Italy, I’m once again thrilled to be involved in the small logo-on-poster way that I am. These things matter to me and it’s a good show, so what the hell.

Volume! is something of a mini-fest, or at least somewhere between that and a label showcase, but either way it’s held at a venue called GOB (as opposed to a magician with the name) and will feature Varego, Rancho Bizzarro, SuperNaughty and Vesta on a bill that runs between amtmosludge and straight-up heavy rock and roll. It looks like a cool time, and all the bands either have new records or new records in the works — I think Varego were in the studio recently — so all the better they’re getting together for a killer night on the northern Italian coastline.

Here’s the info and links for the fest. If you can make it there, why wouldn’t you?

volume fest banner

Volume! Argonauta Fest LIVE at GOB

Saturday, November 17, 2018 at 10 PM

GOB – Ganz of Bicchio – Circolo ARCI
Via Fosso Matelli 1 int 26, 55049 Viareggio, Italy

VOLUME! is the new Argonauta Records event in collaboration with GOB!

VOLUME! born as one of the satellite events of Argonauta Fest!

VOLUME! is four bands of Argonauta Records roster!

VOLUME! will be an evening dedicated to the right guitars!

VOLUME! will be an evening with lots of Heavy Rock!

VOLUME! is a new series of events sponsored by Argonauta Fest that was created with the aim of breaking down the barriers between fans, bands and insiders. Thanks to the collaboration with the GOB, we present this first appointment made of four bands of the Argonauta roster: Rancho Bizzarro, SuperNaughty, Vesta, Varego. An evening of Stoner Rock and Post Metal you can’t miss! We are waiting for you!

https://www.facebook.com/events/334225154013818/
https://www.facebook.com/argonautafest/
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
http://www.argonautarecords.com

Rancho Bizzarro Mondo Rancho EP

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GIVEAWAY: Win an Argonauta Records Prize Pack Featuring Suma, Dee Calhoun, Komatsu and More!

Posted in Features on December 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

A WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN AND THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED.

[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win. Winner is chosen one week from today.]

Enter now to win an Argonauta Records CD prize pack featuring releases from Hollow LegDee CalhounSumaKomatsuVaregoIndiviaMountain TamerObeseLowburn and Beneath the Storm. When the label hit me up last week and asked if I wanted to do a giveaway, I kind of assumed it would be one, maybe two records tops, but I guess when you’ve built up a catalog like the Italian imprint has over the last few years, things like “prize packs” become much easier to assemble. A lot of these releases have been reviewed (and others I’m still catching up to this week — hello, Komatsu), so hopefully the names will be familiar, but either way, free music. Free music sells itself.

Hey, by the way, free music.

I’ve tried to be pretty assiduous in covering Argonauta‘s stuff the last couple years, since I believe that Gero, who runs the label and plays in Varego, is doing good work and for the right reasons. If you’ve hemmed and hawed on checking any of it out, consider this your opportunity to do so with no investment. As always, let me just say I don’t keep anyone’s emails, have no interest in your data, and wouldn’t know what to do with it if I did. So there.

Thanks to Gero and Argonauta for ponying up the prize. Here’s a pic and a list of what you get:

argonauta records

Argonauta Records prize pack – 10 CDs:

INDIVIA – Horta
KOMATSU – Recipe for Murder One
VAREGO – Epoch
DEE CALHOUN – Rotgut
MOUNTAIN TAMER – Mountain Tamer
BENEATH THE STORM – Lucid Nightmare
SUMA – Ashes
LOWBURN – Doomsayer
OBESE – Kali Yuga
HOLLOW LEG – Instinct

[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win. Winner is chosen one week from today.]

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

A WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN AND THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED.

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Review & Full Album Stream: Varego, Epoch

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 10th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

varego-epoch

[Stream Varego’s Epoch in full by clicking play above. Album is out today, Oct. 10, on Argonauta Records.]

It’s not always easy to find, but for each tempest that Italian atmospheric sludge rockers Varego create on the six tracks of their second full-length, Epoch, there is a calm center at the core. That is, while their material offers a veneer of chaos, they never let go of an underlying sense of control, and whether it’s the metal influence that shows up late in the guitar work on “Swarms” or the closing “Dominion,” the earlier Ufomammut-style cosmicrush of the prior-issued single “Phantasma,” or the progressive impulses that seem to be at play there and beneath the churn of “The Cosmic Dome,” the Argonauta Records release succeeds in conveying a diversity of influence on a cohesive, heavy and intriguingly opaque package.

Like Varego‘s 2012 debut, Tumultum — they were a five-piece at the time, they’re now the foursome of bassist/vocalist Davide Marcenaro guitarists Alberto Pozzo and Gero Lucisano (also the head of Argonauta) and drummer Simon Lepore — the prevailing impression on first listen is one of strange immersion. This is thanks in no small part to a heavy effects treatment on Marcenaro‘s vocals, but that semi-psychedelic, spacious echo, in combination with a range of guitar soundscapes, winds up doing a lot of the work of tying Epoch‘s manageable 36-minute run together. It is an album with a sense of presentation more than pretense, but as the sparse guitar build of opener and longest track (immediate points) “Alpha Tauri” gives way to the ensuing rush that sounds something like Mastodon beamed in across several lightyears’ of interstellar signal decay, it’s clear Varego are up for a bit of exploration as well.

As to where that exploration takes them, they seem to display some measure of self-awareness of the journey they’re on. To wit, titles like “Alpha Tauri,” “Flying King,” “The Cosmic Dome,” and even “Dominion” — not to mention the otherworldly mastery conveyed through the album’s cover art, objectification notwithstanding — speak to elements of space, of moving from one place to the next, of something grander than the human sphere, and the music within backs that up with a fervent hypnosis that carries through as “Alpha Tauri” shifts directly into “Phantasma,” which likewise bleeds into “Flying King.”

varego

Bringing the bass forward in the mix gives Epoch an immediate strike of heft, and sets up the dynamic of the buried vocals and the far-out guitar work of Pozzo and Lucisano, but it might be Lepore holding the songs together ultimately. “Flying King” finds him cycling through fills as the guitars and vocals stretch themselves to and beyond oblivion, and though it’s the shortest cut on the album at 4:44, and among the more straightforward, particularly after the thrust of “Phantasma,” from its beginning keyboard flourish to its capping wash of noise, it seems to be the drums providing that center around which the rest of the track swirls — though in this case, that center is anything but calm.

Each of the three songs that follow, “The Cosmic Dome,” “Swarms” and “Dominion,” lead the listener further along a path of consuming bleakness. One finds tortured shouts echoing behind furious riffing on “The Cosmic Dome,” and with the somewhat extended droning intro to that song, it all the more gives the feeling of having shifted from one side to another, side A to B, even in a linear (digital/CD) format. Reinforcement arrives as “Swarms” launches with its slow-Slayer nodding lead line and ping ride and continues to unfurl more downer vibes in the ensuing post-metallic build, increasing in tempo before receding again to a calm and somewhat morose contemplation across a long fade where even the snare drum is coated in reverb.

Like much of the album before it, this is a moment of grayed-out psychedelia, and that vibe carries into the finale “Dominion.” If this is the place to which Epoch has been leading, it’s an alternate dimension of far-ranging sludge and space-metallic thrust, marked out by its build and the rousing finish to which it progresses, the vocals holding all the while to the aforementioned sense of control that has underscored Varego‘s work across this massive but still efficiently-executed span.

At the end of “Dominion,” that seems to be exactly what Varego have established over this strange, sometimes confusing sonic territory. They are fully at home in it. They make it their own. They twist it to suit their purposes on a given track, in a given expression. That they’d develop further into their own sound on a second album four years after their debut isn’t necessarily surprising, but the progressive vision of sludge they present on Epoch that’s neither lacking atmosphere nor purely derivative of post-metal only becomes more satisfyingly individualized on repeat listens, which speaks even more of the band having fully realized the impressive scope of their intentions.

Varego on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

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Varego to Release Epoch this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 3rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Italian post-sludgers Varego give a taste of their impending second album, Epoch, in a new video teaser that you can see below. Epoch will be released by Argonauta Records this fall, and with a Billy Anderson mix, its foreboding atmosphere and experimentalist undertones are an even easier sell. When it arrives in full, it will be comprised of six tracks, and it seems like in the teaser we get a sample of one of them — at least going by the drum progression — but that already hits on a fascinating combo of hypnotic groove and darker ambience.

The PR wire brought the announcement of the release and the teaser clip below:

varego

VAREGO: NEW ALBUM AND COLLABORATION WITH BILLY ANDERSON

Italian Post Metal / Sludgers VAREGO announce new album after the acclaimed debut “Tumultum” (2012), the follow up EP “Blindness of the Sun” (2013) and the digital single “Phantasma” (2015).

The new album is entitled EPOCH and captures the band at its very best, with renewed vibes in their sound made of unceasing guitar riffing, yet built on progressive structures with a sort of cinematic touch.

EPOCH will be made of six long tracks and will see the band renewing its long time collaboration with legendary producer BILLY ANDERSON, by caring mixing and mastering.

The band says: “The new album EPOCH is our most relevant effort to date, born after several months of hiatus that gave us a new belief and attitude towards our means and targets. We are plenty satisfied of the band work, being able to capture and build up something different than before, keeping our roots alive and transforming them into an original sound full of energies and atmosphere. Having big influences from bands as MELVINS, NEUROSIS, VOIVOD and MOTORPSYCHO, our aim was to create a sort of celebration of a certain music attitude and method. And the new partnership with Billy Anderson did the rest”.

While the first taste of the new album will be revealed soon, the band just released a promo teaser available here.

EPOCH will be released Fall 2016 in CD/DD by ARGONAUTA Records.

www.argonautarecords.com
www.facebook.com/varego

Varego, Epoch album teaser

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Varego Release New Single “Phantasma” this Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 4th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

The forthcoming “Phantasma” single from Italian post-sludgers Varego will not be their first collaboration with Billy Anderson. Rather, Anderson — whose production CV is second to none in heavy — has mixed and mastered everything the Genoa outfit have done to date, from their 2012 debut, Tumultum to the next year’s follow-up EP, Blindness of the Sun. Varego have been largely out of commission since that shorter offering, but the five-piece make a return with the new single, the B-side for which will be a remix of “Secrets Untold” from the last EP by Argonauta Records labelmates Shabda.

No audio yet, but the release is due at the end of the month, so it can’t be far now. Info follows as sent along the PR wire:

varego

VAREGO: new single and collaboration with SHABDA

Italian Post Prog Metallers VAREGO are back after two years of silence ‘till their latest “Blindness of the Sun” opus. The band is actually working to the final touches to their new 2-songs single “PHANTASMA” tentatively scheduled by the end of November. Available on bandcamp via free download, “Phantasma” will feature a very new song of the band, mixed and mastered by legendary producer BILLY ANDERSON (Sleep, Weedeater, among many others), and the remix of the old song “Secrets Untold” cared by Drone Doom outfit SHABDA, transforming Varego heavy sound into an antithetic texture of reiterations and droning surround.

VAREGO say: “Yes, we’ve been probably too much under the radar recently, but this will be a significant come back for us in two years, that we want to celebrate with a new song that more than ever features all our influences (think of Melvins, Neurosis, Voivod and King Crimson, all together, yes!). Or, if it looks too much pretentious, just call it WEIRD METAL!”.

“PHANTASMA” free download single will be available tentatively by the end of November via ARGONAUTA Records bandcamp page: https://argonautarecords.bandcamp.com/

More info to follow soon.

www.argonautarecords.com
www.facebook.com/varego
https://varego.bandcamp.com/
https://argonautarecords.bandcamp.com/

Varego, Blindness of the Sun (2013)

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Nibiru, Kayleth, Varego and More Confirmed for Argonauta Fest 2015

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

The first Argonauta Fest is set for May 10 at Live23 in Alessandria, Italy. Confirmed for the lineup are NibiruInfection CodeVaregoLast Minute to JaffnaDeaf Eyes and Kayleth, and there’s free CD samplers to be on hand and much more slated for the inaugural event, which is put on by Argonauta Records, who explain their motivations as bringing their taste in music — from vicious sludge to far-ranging psych — to life on stage. Probably getting everyone together and turning the volume all the way up and partying and all the rest of it don’t hurt either, but you know, it doesn’t necessarily need to be one or the other.

Info for the fest came down the PR wire, if you’d care to peruse the links and so on:

argonauta fest 2015 poster

ARGONAUTA Records present: ARGONAUTA FEST first edition!

From the label: “We are proud to announce that May 10, 2015 will take place the first official Argonauta Records Fest! An event created primarily as a need to represent “on stage” our musical taste, giving a “live” vent to our first years of life as a label, enhanced by many feedbacks both nationally and abroad. Six bands of our roster will create an evening that will move into Stoner, Post Metal, Noisecore and Sludge territories. A fine opportunity to share with us what will be a feast made of extreme sounds and great bands. Stay tuned on our official sites (www.facebook.com/argonautarecords www.argonautarecords.com) for more details about the bands on the program and on further initiatives related to the event to be held in Alessandria (Italy) at LIVE23”.

ARGONAUTA Fest 2015 features the following bands:

NIBIRU (Psych Ritual Sludge)
https://www.facebook.com/nibiruritual
INFECTION CODE (Noisecore)
https://www.facebook.com/infectioncode
VAREGO (Post Metal/Stoner)
https://www.facebook.com/varego
LAST MINUTE TO JAFFNA (Post Metal)
https://www.facebook.com/jaffnatominutelast
DEAF EYES (Instrumental Post Metal)
https://www.facebook.com/deafeyesband
KAYLETH (Space Stoner Rock)
https://www.facebook.com/KAYLETHBand

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1376440029345838

For more infos:
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords
https://www.facebook.com/argonautafest

Varego, “Hesperian” official video

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