Sahg – Memento Mori (Indie Recordings)Thursday, 6th October 2016
Olav Iversen is the only original member of Sahg left, a band whose mid-‘00s launch was more noticeable because of who was in the band instead of their actual output. Back then (which makes it sound like it was a generation ago), having a bunch of Norwegian black metal dudes playing psychedelic rock was not exactly common, thus giving Sahg anomaly status. Their productivity suggested otherwise, starting in 2006 with an album coming every other year until 2013’s strong Delusions of Grandeur. Since then, more lineup turnover has occurred, but Iversen and a new cast of characters have plopped another dependable offering down in the form of Memento Mori.
Probably heavier than the bands they’re considered in league with (Graveyard, Scorpion Child, Witchcraft, et al), Sahg’s riff’s often take on a simplistic angle in order for Iversen’s floaty, occasionally Ozzy-like vocals to do their thing. There’s a few choice choruses here, most notably on opener “Black Unicorn,” a pushy, if not blatant doom stroke that works wonders. “Sanctimony” hangs around in the above-mentioned Sabbath manner, buoyed by a crisp middle guitar break, while the rackety “Travelers of Space and Light” strikes the appropriate balance between Sahg’s whirling psych leanings and their crunchy backbone.
Sahg’s has certainly outgrown their black metal spinoff beginnings, emerging as one of Norway’s most dutiful hard rock bands. While it’s unclear if Memento Mori will move the needle for Iversen and gang, it’s a gripping, if not appropriate entry into their not-totally-throwback-but-close canon.