Varg Blutaar

This second full-length release from German ensemble Varg is aptly referred to as Pagan metal, complete with epic leads, rolling double bass and a victorious atmosphere. Although the combination of folk, Viking and Pagan metal is a trend at the moment, Varg performs it convincingly and with gusto, managing to eschew the somewhat cheesy pitfalls of many of their peers. Blutaar has a rough, unpolished quality, adding a gritty, heavy edge to their sound. The execution of the music is admirable, but there is something lacking. Blutaar is somehow not quite as exciting as it should be, but it's difficult to pinpoint what the problem is. Although there is diversity in the clash between up-tempo riffs and breakdowns, the heavy and acoustic moments and so on, there is a stagnant element throughout. Perhaps it's an album best appreciated as background music or as fodder for mix CDs. (Napalm)