Olav Iversen: Vocals / Guitars
Thomas Tofthagen: Guitars
Tony Vetaas: Bass / Vocals
Thomas Lønnheim: Drums / Percussion
So where are the new, classic bands? It's a question that's confounded labels and listeners alike for years, and with good reason. With over four decades since the likes of Jimmy Page and Tony Iommi first put soul to reel, it's perhaps understandable that all who have followed in their wake have faced a near-impossible task. Present yourself as an homage to those timeless sounds and you'll be dismissed as derivative. Step too far out of the shadow, and you just wouldn't rock.
Enter Sahg, who've cast aside the bullshit to create the kind of record that could only come from the deepest respect for the architects of our world, but also from a cast-iron resolve to move beyond it to create something thrilling, compelling, and utterly new.
Forged in Bergen's creative melting pot in 2004, the Norwegian riff-lords have conquered stages from Wacken to India, and their chart-busting 2006 debut, Sahg I, received universal praise from critics and fans alike, including a perfect 10/10 from Germany's Rock Hard and a commendable 8/10 from Metal Hammer UK. It didn't end there, with Classic Rock magazine boldly declaring that their 2008 follow-up, Sahg II, 'teeters on the edge of a modern day classic.' But while the praise for Sahg's singular vision and virtuoso abilities has been high, it's also been consistently laced with references to the most monumental of groups responsible for creating the rock and metal world we live in. The comparisons aren't accidental.
"There's no denying our influences," says Olav Iversen, frontman, guitarist, and co-creator of Sahg's towering sounds. "Our biggest heroes are the bands that truly defined heavy music. Sabbath and Zeppelin have created some of the darkest atmospheres ever expressed by musicians. In later years, however, we have also taken a lot of influence from modern, progressive metal bands, like Mastodon and Opeth. But the key to making use of your influences isn't by imitating their work, but by using them to create something new and unique."
And nowhere is that more evident than on their latest opus, the curiously-titled Delusions Of Grandeur. Otherworldly, mystical, unflinchingly progressive, and unafraid to call upon the powers of doom, Delusions… is nothing less than 48 minutes of impeccable musicianship and flawless delivery. Recorded at Solslottet Studios – aka Castle Of The Sun – under production of Iver Sandøy (Enslaved, Krakow), Sahg's fourth entry in the annals of wickedness is a doom-infused, heavy rock fireball that's set to torch speakers around the globe.
"We recorded it live," says Olav. "We wanted to capture the heat of the moment and the organic vibe of our live performance."
So what's with the title? Brace yourselves: it's a concept record.
"We came up with the story about a person, whose delusions of grandeur escalate to the level where they consume him completely," explains Olav. "From becoming increasingly psychopathic and dominant, he loses touch with everyone around him, and isolates into his own imaginary, psychotic world, where he becomes the almighty ruler of the universe. As he stands on the highest peak of his domain and beholds all that he has conquered, he suddenly slips off the edge and floats away, weightless. Helpless and stripped of all power, he drifts further into the open space, until he disappears into the darkness. It's an album about how desire for power and property can distort and destroy who we are."
Inspired by imagery from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Fritz Lang's 1927 masterpiece Metropolis, the eerie aesthetics of sci-fi author Sean Williams' Astropolis quadrilogy, and Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgård's explosive autobiography, My Struggle, there's no denying the depth of thought as well as musicianship that underlies Sahg's fourth, most ambitious release. And from the breathtaking, cinematic dynamics opening salvo Slip Off The Edge Of The Universe to the thundering muscularity of Firechild and the utterly cosmic, 11-minute sojourn of Sleeper's Gate To The Galaxy, this is the stuff landmarks are made of. Get involved.
Produced by Iver Sandoy (Enslaved, Krakow).
Recorded at Solslottet Studios – aka Castle Of The Sun.