We’ve had some fairly gentle, sophisticated stuff recently so I’d already decided the next post was going to crank up the volume somewhat and then, lo and behold, along came Varnagel with a new single release, ‘Ensamvargtimmen,’ the second digital one since their come-back in early 2022 after eight years in the wilderness. Mr Google translates it as ‘The lone wolf hour,’ which sounds ominous.
I say ‘in the wilderness’ but it was only in 2014 that they released their last EP, ‘Herrelösa hundar’; however it was 15 years ago that their last album ‘Vill ha mer’ saw the light of day. So that’s my excuse for not knowing of them. It was only late in 2014 that I started this reviewing malarkey.
Their PR says the band “has a bunch of new punk smokers ready up their sleeve planned to be released later in the year.”
Now look, I’m old school. Mention punk and I’m thinking The Ramones, New York Dolls, and over here the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Buzzcocks…you get my drift. It says a lot about the industry and how ‘genres’ have merged and overlapped over the years that Varnagel can be considered ‘punk’, well certainly in the light of this song.
For starters, they say ‘Ensamvargtimmen’ “is in equal parts about individualist society, the so-called ‘freedom of choice’ and mental illness. Make the right and smart choices and you will control your life and your children’s future, they say. The responsibility for society and the planet is yours only – hope you sleep well at night, you lousy sucker.
Hmm, somehow I can’t imagine Johnny Rotten being that erudite. Whatever happened to good old brain dead anarchy?
Then there’s the tune. Correction, I mean there actually is a tune. And a bridge. Quite a sophisticated one, too. The more I listen to it Varnagel come across as a latter day fusion of hard and prog rock with a little symphonic metal thrown in for good measure.
Or perhaps it’s a requirement by law for Swedish punks to have to learn to play their instruments.
Delving into their history it seems they were formed out of a 1990s punk wave in Sweden sharing stages with what sound like they could be death metal bands; Slutstation Tjernobyl (the mind boggles imagining a brothel there, teats glowing fluorescent green), Radioaktiva Räker, Skumdum and…ABBA?? Sorry, UBBA. I should have gone to Specsavers.
Varnagel signed to the Beat Butchers label in 2005 and their production includes inter alia three albums, two EPs, and a ‘best-of’ compilation. They’ve appeared on many punk compilations.
But that was then and this is now. Call it what you will, I like the song. It’s got a good vibe. More of it, please.
The band has written and recorded a number of new songs which are planned to be released as a vinyl and digital album on Beat Butchers during the second half of 2022. During the year, a bunch of the songs will be released digitally and the band will do a limited number of live shows as well.
Erik – Bass and back-up vocals
Freddan – Drums, guitar and back-up vocals
Tobbe – Lead vocals and guitar
Earlier members: Henkan – Guitar and back-up vocals, Danne – Drums
Live-session: Joel – guitar and back-up vocals
Find them on: