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Sahg - "Sahg II" (CD)

Sahg - "Sahg II" CD cover image

"Sahg II" track listing:

1. Ascent to Decadence (4:12)
2. Echoes Ring Forever (6:17)
3. From Conscious Sleep (2:15)
4. Star-Crossed (6:25)
5. Escape the Crimson Sun (4:54)
6. Pyromancer (3:56)
7. Wicked Temptress (5:10)
8. By the Toll of the Bell (4:34)
9. Monomania (10:58)

Reviewed by on May 22, 2008

"You really can’t fault Sahg. They’ve managed to take the classic sound of Sabbath and make it their own to claim a snug spot in the doom metal world."

Mention “Bergen, Norway” and a musician such as Gorgoroth’s King and you’re likely to conjure up images of a scathing black metal assault. However, cast your minds back almost 20 years from black metals second wave which gave rise to the likes of Gorgoroth and you will meet the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Sahg of course are pure old-school doom with NWOBHM overtones and they just happen to share a bassist with notorious Norwegian band Gorgoroth. Devoid of black metal but drenched in Black Sabbath, Sahg return with their second aptly named opus “Sahg II.”

Anyone not living under a rock in the metal world knows that old-school influences are the new black. In 2006 Sahg struck a lucky time to emerge into the metal world, their debut album “Sahg I” receiving a surprising amount of praise that doom bands of the 90s could only but wish for. While they set the bar high the good news is that Sahg have met fan expectation and brought to the table nine tracks of pure stoner doom while expanding on their first outing.

The first point to hammer home here is that the old-school metal sound reigns on this album. Like most doom metal bands Sahg makes no excuses for wearing their heart on their sleeve, conjuring forth the spirit of Black Sabbath, St. Vitus, Angel Witch and the old guard that kick-started metal into life. While trendy faux-metal bands such as Wolfmother struggle to cover up a mish-mash of plagiarized riffs, Sahg feels no need. Nothing here sounds forced or tired, and the song-writing has definitely stepped up a notch from the album's predecessor.

The vocals provided by Olav Iversen are strong, clear and soulful with Ozzy’s Sabbath days worshiped both melodically and stylistically. The Black Sabbath resemblance is further apparent in tracks like “Star-Crossed” and excellent the “Planet Caravan”-esque “Escape The Crimson Sun,” but the likeness never becomes a hindrance to "Sahg II" and it's vision. The music itself flirts with the bluesy rock vibe of NWOBHM, but the engine room of Sahg remains firmly in doom territory and is metal to the bone. “Star-Crossed” is a particularly great track worth checking out, showing off a Slough Feg-like cleverness to the riffing and giving a glimpse of Sahg’s writing talent in a microcosm.

There are some really nice touches on “Sahg II” which makes it stand above the band's debut. First, the solos are excellent. Exuding all the emotions and colors of a psychedelic trip, the fuzzed out spacey guitar meanderings flow beautifully and are reminiscent of the late, great Frank Zappa. Next, there are some excellent acoustic sections which makes the whole album feel impressively dynamic. Not content with a boring soundscape, Sahg manages to meld massive doom rock-slides with acoustic dreams and more with perfect ease with some interesting progressive touches to the music. “Monomania” is also a great finishing track; a laid back cyclopean journey to the edge of space and beyond in just under 11 minutes.

You really can’t fault Sahg. They’ve managed to take the classic sound of Sabbath and make it their own to claim a snug spot in the doom metal world. Not to be put in a box however, “Sahg II” is broad enough appeal to rock, classic heavy metal and doom metal fans alike, so do yourself a favor and check out a northern bands take on classic stoner doom.

Highs: Spacey solos and great dynamic songwriting and crushing riff competency

Lows: Can feel like a veritable shrine to Black Sabbath

Bottom line: Black Sabbath worship done right; a must-hear for all fans of stoner rock and old-school doom

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)