Sahg – III Review

Sahg // III
Rating: 4.0/5.0 — The Norwegian scene is dead, long live the Norwegian scene!
Label: Indie Recordings
Websites: |
Release Dates: EU: 30.08.2010 | US: Unknown (09.14.2010?)

Retro is the new new, apparently. Everyone and their dog is doing retro bands doing old school things with better (or at least louder) production and with the sensibilities of generations who have listened to a lot of music and decided that it’s time to come back to the thing that really seems to unite them: the 1970s. I, myself, have been listening to a lot of stuff from the 1970s lately, and especially the progressive rock movement that influenced many of the musicians from Scandinavia seems to be rearing its head in an interesting combination of traditional hard rock, heavy metal sensibilities and dudes who used to play black metal. Sahg’s III embodies this movement sonically, and does it very, very well.

To give you a general idea of the sound that Sahg approaches the listener with, I would describe it as a mixture of a band like Grand Magus with 1980s Ozzy. The tracks are pretty straight forward and simplistic, and the vocals of Olav Iversen (Manngard) actually throw themselves right into the Ozzy territory and this is basically clear from “Mortify” forward for the rest of the album. These vocals, mixed with mid-paced groove and some very Randy Rhoadsy guitar solos, left an indelible impression on me which screamed “OZZY!” While he is not a dead ringer for the man vocally, his sound is close enough that I have trouble not imaging the band wearing tights and snorting lots of coke.

But unlike those early Ozzy records, which are hit and miss, Sahg’s III is a stone cold example of consistency from a band of high quality musicians and writers. The songwriting is traditional, it’s true, but the pop sensibility with which the songs are written, that is, the complexity of catchy melodies, the structures of the songs and even the flow of the album, are definitely what makes this record crackle. Aside from just “Baptism of Fire” and “Mortify”, which lead the record off with a catchy of driving tracks for your headbanging pleasure, the record also contains tracks like “Mother’s Revenge” and “Spiritual Void”, which are doomy, mid-paced tracks that hold a bit of Norwegian melancholy in their thick grooves.

It’s hard to even say that there are any filler tracks on here. Every track is constructed well, with an eye backwards without sounding like a dead ringer for any of the major bands of the 1970s or 80s. But don’t expect there to be a lot of feel good driving heavy metal. The feel on this is a lot more similar to Soundgarden (actually, the track “Spiritual Void” reminds me of a Soundgarden track, but I can’t put my finger on which one) and Black Sabbath than the faster variations of traditional metal in the 1980s that ended up giving rise to power metal in its current form. But this isn’t necessarily a drawback: heavy and groovy can be just as entertaining and enjoyable as fast, energetic and melodic and in the case of Sahg, it definitely is.

So, this Angry Metal Guy should probably end this up by saying what you should already know: this record is highly recommended. And if you get the chance to see these guys on tour in Europe with Enslaved and Dimmu Borgir you should really do that, because I’m sure that this music is fantastic live. It seems that while the Norwegian scene has been gaining the scorn of people mourning the downfall of the traditional black metal scene, the musicians went ahead and kept making great music. The Norwegian scene is dead! Long live the Norwegian scene!

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