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V.A.R. - Level 6

Level 6
by Julius “Dreadheart” Mikkelä at 23 December 2014, 9:49 PM

V.A.R., short for Vratislavice Alcoholic Roar, is a Thrash Metal band from the Czech Republic that has been at the Thrash game since 1990 and has, including this album, released 6 full-length studio albums, all written in their native tongue. This, along with, as far as I can measure, no international spread or promotion, seems to be one of the chief reasons why this band is completely unknown to the international Metal scene – because it sure isn’t a lack of Thrash Metal feel and attitude!

From the opening note to the last stroke of the guitar, V.A.R.’s 6th album “Level 6” delivers raw, unadulterated and relentless Thrash with little to no mercy. Admittedly there isn’t much finesse to it either, but I can write that off as a sound/style thing, because these guys seem like they know exactly what they’re doing. In that sense, they remind me of the German Thrash Metal band TANKARD, who have their own Thrash Metal style and sound, care nothing about changing it or maybe even don’t bother trying to get better. Rather they’ve found their nirvana in a certain style and just go with it. And that really makes it a take-it-or-leave-it kind of thing.

Personally, I don’t buy it. I like my Thrash relentless, but I expect either more rage and chaos (EXODUS, KREATOR) or more after-thought and musical adeptness (ESSENCE, TESTAMENT) than V.A.R. provides. It may be the mix of the Czech language and the raw sound that just doesn’t seem to cut it for me, but I wasn’t drawn to it. With that said this could be the fix someone else is looking for, if raw and relentless is what you’re looking for. Musically I found nothing wrong with it, and I must admit there were times (especially on the opening of the first track) that really got my Thrash blood pumping – it just never started boiling. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not, but it means that it can’t compete against the Thrashers that do.

So even on the best of days, I don’t think this album will take anyone by storm, but at the same time it’s a solid enough Thrash Metal album. It may sound bad, but it’s really not – it’s just not the kind of album that gets you engaged – studio wise at least, I imagine this band could be pretty cool to see live. And maybe it’s one of those bands that’s meant for a national crowd, and that Czech listeners will be drawn to this like Swedes to a SABATON concert, but I can’t tell either way since I don’t know the language – and beyond that, all I found was a respectably solid yet at the same time sadly just fine Thrash Metal album.

3 Star Rating

1. Samota Waldhaus
2. Černej Had
3. Krvelačný Proudy
4. Stíny a Krev
5. Hvězda Lucifer
6. Jednou mě Zabiješ
7. Vránami Rozklován
8. Nesahej na nás
9. Budou Cvakat železa
10. Ledový Bytosti
Jiri “Vyczka” Vycital - Bass
Jan “Jeny” Janota - Drums
Martin “Shoopy” Šmejc - Guitars
Jan “Sznegh” Brtko - Guitars
Pavel “Berun” Berger -Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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