Sahg_MementoMori_01Led by vocalist/guitarist Olav Iversen, Norwegian quartet Sahg have been delivering quality rock/metal with old-school values for years. Their 2013 opus Delusions of Grandeur was a sonic and compositional masterpiece, landing on AMG‘s Top 10 that year, and showing serious staying power on my stereo as well. After a 3-year gap, Sahg returns with two new members and a dark, doomy album called Memento Mori.

The record gets off to a slow start with “Black Unicorn.” The song begins with an effect-laden guitar intro, followed by a long, slow build that has me looking at my watch impatiently. The payoff is hardly worth the wait, as the track limps its way through 6 and a half minutes, minus a few cool parts here and there. Calling it a “bad” song would be a stretch, but it’s a weak-ass choice for an album opener.

It quickly becomes apparent that one of my favorite things about Delusions — the production — has been completely dismantled. That album boasted massively organic tones and a convincing live feel, both of which are hard to come by these days. Memento, however, is quite audibly a product of the studio. Vocals and guitars both sound fairly digital, and I swear I hear the same drum samples used on the last couple of Alice In Chains albums. The change in sound may be a byproduct of the aforementioned lineup turnover, but either way, it’s a shame. On the plus side, Iversen’s vocal delivery has evolved considerably between albums, and his performance here is possibly his best yet.

The band kicks up the tempo for “Devilspeed,” a straightforward rocker that reminds me of modern-era Amorphis. “Silence the Machines” also aims for that momentum, but the plodding drum work keeps it firmly on the ground. The new and improved Sahg apparently doesn’t do “fast” very well.

“Take It to the Grave” continues the gloom and doom, with its baritone vocal delivery and memorable chorus. Oddly, Memento’s sterile production actually works to this song’s benefit, giving it a cold, distant feel that goes nicely with the lyrics. The grinding, sinister “Sanctimony” finds Iversen delivering a scathing vocal before the song breaks up into a double-time instrumental section. Iversen and co. are clearly in the mood for some doom, and these two tracks are probably the standouts on this record.

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“(Praise the) Electric Sun” is a relatively brief psychedelic number, utilizing acoustic guitars alongside some David Gilmour-style slide work and what may or not be a flute. This is followed by “Travellers of Space and Light,” which seems caught somewhere between rocking out and being trippy, and instead lands in the purgatory of just being uninteresting. The album’s biggest outlier is final track “Blood of Oceans.” Here the band goes into full-on Hammerheart mode, with an old-school Viking feel and even some Norwegian lyrics at the song’s midsection. This is the heaviest track on the record by a mile, and while it comes off as somewhat out of character for the more rock-minded Sahg, it does end the record on a powerful note.

Coming off two excellent albums, Sahg has dropped the ball slightly with Memento Mori, arriving at merely “OK” rather than “great.” This is the sound of an excellent band and songwriter in the midst of an identity crisis, and while the material is still quality, it feels somewhat directionless. In all honesty, hearing this album just makes me want to put on Delusions or Sahg III, but as always, your results may vary.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Indie Recordings
Websites: sahgband.com | facebook.com/sahgband
Releases Worldwide: September 23rd, 2016

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  • Dethjesta

    Hmmm, small world. A French melodeath band called Aephanemer also released an album called Memento Mori last Friday.

    • Dr_Fisting

      “Memento Mori” is about as generic an album title as they come — there’s gotta be at least 4 or 5 more of them out there.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        They didn’t reach very deep into the pile for the art either

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          There’s a website called “Big Dumb Skulls” dedicated exclusively to Metal albums with cover art like the one used here.They decided to cut it off at 666 covers.

          • Dr_Fisting

            I miss Big Dumb Skulls very much.

          • Oscar Albretsen

            LOL!

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Go visit that Big Dumb Skulls website for a few afternoons of LOLs

          • Oscar Albretsen

            After I read your comment, I spent like 2 hours there. Skipped over the music reviews mostly, but their write-ups for the album covers are freakin’ HILARIOUS! I only got to about number 600, so still 566 more to read!

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I did a search on the Metal Archives and it turned out 15 full length albums titled Memento Mori. If EPs, demos and singles are included, the count goes up to 45.

        • Dr_Fisting

          Sounds about right.

      • Reese Burns

        I think I saw a band called Gemeni Syndrome who just released an album called Memento Mori as well.

      • brklyner

        From what I can gather from discogs, there are 149 releases with that name.

    • [not a Dr]

      Reminding people that they are mortal is a very metal hobby.
      Moonspell also have an awesome song called Memento Mori.

    • autonamed

      Yep, and the Aephanemer one is a great listen, if you’re at least a bit into that style. Would be worth a review on this very site, too.

      • GardensTale

        No promo, no review. I may be a newbie but I know we get more than enough material to review without adding to it ourselves.

        • autonamed

          Suggested it to them. Sorry in the case of success – I know you’re already drowning in a sea of promos. But at least, all you newbies couldn’t have enough stuff to wrap your fresh and unconsumed minds around… ;-)

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Also, they’re an unsigned band. They sure need any and all exposure they can get.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I just listened to a track from that Aephanemer release and it’s pretty good.

      • Dethjesta

        Yeah, I like it too.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    This is the one time I both agree on a 2.5 rating, but don’t feel like I wasted my time listening to this album. I’ve never felt so neutral about an album in my life.

    • Dr_Fisting

      “Neutral” is a good way to put it. I didn’t think the record sucked, but I’ll probably never listen to it again.

  • Akerblogger

    Ah this is a shame, I’ve had ‘Slip off the Edge of the Universe,’ and most of their last album, on repeat for what feels like eternity – such tightly written songs – so it’s a bit of a bummer that they haven’t taken it up a notch.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    This a very dissappointing read. Maybe he felt like he had to shake things up… I don’t know why, Delusions is such a great album and was really hoping for its logical extension here.
    Still, these guys have a lot of good will in the bank. I’ll give this a go and hope for the best.

    • Thatguy

      I kind of feel the same way. We shall see.

  • Treble Yell

    Screen Actors (Hell) Guild

  • I…quite liked the embedded track. Are the band’s other albums much better then?

  • herrschobel

    one look at the Press photo and i get the feeling this is crap !

  • Monsterth Goatom

    This isn’t a reminder of death: it’s a reminder of the greatness of Delusions and Sahg III.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Another album titled “Memento Mori,”eh? Too bad album titles aren’t copyrighted. There must be like 100 “Memento Moris” to predede this. Doesn’t make me too optimistic regarding their creativity. Low and behold, the song is as run of the mill as it gets. Ugh.

  • Deadpoetdied

    I might me in the minority here, but I did enjoy the embedded track.

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    I do agree that Black Unicorn is a weak choice as album opener, but other than that this is prime. The evolution of Sahg is a beautiful thing!

  • Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick

    Sahg is one of my all-time favorite bands. I’m not talking in the new millennial sense; I mean of all-friggin’-time. I don’t think they’ve released a bad album yet. I’ve had this on pre-order for what seems an eternity and am looking forward to it. Maybe this will finally be there dud, but even so, they’ve given me so much enjoyment from Sahg I up to Delusions… that I refuse not to give them my support. I still have high hopes for this one.

  • Patrick Bearden

    I was actually about to get into this album tonight….and stumbled across this review. I hope the album is better to my ears than the good Doctor’s. We shall see….