1. Intro: Parade Macabre 2. Repent 3. The Executioner Undead 4. The Alchemist 5. Rivers Running Dry 6. Whisper of Abaddon 7. Godless Faith 8. Soul Exile 9. Boundless Demise 10. Black Passage
The genre of ‘doom metal’ is an extremely relative term. The vastly separated camps of Candlemass, Catacombs, Shape of Despair, Aarni, Black Sabbath, and Solitude Aeturnus all fall under its wide mantle. Therefore, when a band is referred to as such, regardless of whether it is by the band themselves, their label, or their fans, it must always be taken with a grain of salt. Or two.
The most recent roll of the doom dice to come this way is Sahg, the new group from Candlelight featuring one of Metal’s busiest men-- King (ov Hell), who has also appeared on Gorgoroth, Jotunspor, and Audrey Horne albums all in the past twelve months; what’s more, he is part of the upcoming collaboration with Abbath of Immortal called simply ‘I’. The rest of the line-up, too, is worthy of mention as well; drummer Einar Selvik also appeared in Gorgoroth for a time, guitarist/vocalist Olav Iversen hails from Manngard, and guitarist Thomas Tofthagen joins Tom “King” Visnes in Audrey Horne. So, has this prodigious workload thinned the creative richness of these busy Norwegians? If Sahg is any indication, absolutely not.
‘Sahg I’ is as solid a sludge-covered, hard rockin’, bluesy an album the metal scene has encountered in quite some time. Sahg play with the age-old feel captured by the classic Black Sabbath, the mighty swells of Yob, and a modern flare similar to The Sword, Krux, or Electric Wizard. With one of the crunchiest, most organic and straight-up heavy production jobs of the year, each track grooves instantaneously.
Sahg is not afraid of using conventional riff technique, but neither are they constrained by it. ‘Sahg I’ resonates with familiarity, the sort that warms the rocker within, and at the same time adds to the mixture through tasteful, conservative originality: the ambience and harmonic scales setting a tranquil tone at the album’s outset, the acoustic interlude towards the end. For all its simplicity, ‘Sahg I’ is a very well constructed and carefully crafted piece of work, and this attentive nature shows through in its consistent energy and presence.
If there is any issue to be had with Sahg, it is vocalist Olav. He is the vast majority of the time soulful and inventive, possessing an honest and clear voice made for rock music. But there are moments, especially the track ‘Boundless Demise’ (which is inconveniently the ‘single’ released thus far and the only mediocre track on the album), where he sounds uncomfortably similar to Lenny Kravitz.
This is rare, though, and a minor blemish upon an otherwise grand opening.
Whatever the name for this new wave of music Sahg play—rock, doom, heavy/stoner metal, sludge—the bottom line is that it’s simply great music, and that Sahg have emerged to lead the vanguard forward.
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