The new masters of doom, Norway's SAHG, are set to unveil their latest masterpiece, the simply named "Sahg II", on March 18 on Regain Records.
While the band's 2006 debut, "Sahg I", established the band as a force to be reckoned with in doom metal, "Sahg II" proves the band's staying power. Taking inspiration from the forefathers of all things heavy — BLACK SABBATH — SAHG creates its own interpretation of retro, trippy, heavy music, based around memorable, ear-catching riffs.
"This album is definitely a big step forward for us, both musically and technically/sound-wise," said guitarist/vocalist Olav Iversen. "The songs are more diverse on 'Sahg II' because we have allowed ourselves to think more freely and be more receptive to a wider range of inspiration. There are so many directions we want to explore with this band, and this is just what we had time for in this round."
While the band focused on learning from past mistakes, the recording process itself turned out to be a bit of a challenge for SAHG, with the recording studio being torn to the ground by the landlord after recording just three songs. Undeterred, they used a tiny rehearsal room as a temporary studio while seeking out another location. They soon settled at Audiopilot Studio in their native town of Bergen, Norway, a studio by the ocean, full of vintage guitar amps, effects, tape machines, and a Fender Rhodes piano. It was the perfect summer setting for SAHG to record. And then the technical problems started.
"It really felt like being under some vicious spell," Iversen said. "But, finally, we landed it, with a bunch of pretty intense recordings in our hands that are very much colored by the strife and frustration we were in. All the hardship turned into something good."
Fans will notice that everything that made SAHG so dynamic on the debut is there twofold on "Sahg II". "The fast songs are faster, and the trippy ones trippier," said Iversen. "On one end of the scale, is 'Pyromancer', which we recently shot the music video for. This one is a real up-tempo rocker, and the riffs are inspired by old thrash metal, mixed in with a good bunch of DEEP PURPLE/'Highway Star' vibes. On the trippy end of the scale, I think 'Escape the Crimson Sun' and 'Monomania' are the most obvious examples. 'Escape' is a mellow, acoustic piece, which is something we have wanted to do for a long time, with flutes, mandolin, and tripped-out vocals. I think it makes a good time-out on a pretty intense album like this. When we recorded 'Monomania', we didn't know what the last half of the song was gonna be like. But after a few bottles of wine, we decided to have a go at it anyway. The vibe and the atmosphere were just right for it, and we just jammed out the last part there and then. So, everything you hear on there, except the vocals and the Hammond organ, is totally live, recorded under the considerable influence of red wine. 'From Conscious Sleep' is the only instrumental piece on the album. It is based on a killer riff written by our guitarist Thomas, which we arranged into a very monumental and orchestral piece, with strings and classical choir."
Since its beginning in 2004, SAHG has been plagued with drummer problems. "Sahg II" was recorded with a session drummer and a search is currently underway for a permanent fixture in the band. Despite being involved in other bands, the group stresses that SAHG is indeed a priority band for all three current members. "We are still involved with other things each on our ends, because we all have an extensive drive towards dealing with a lot of different music simultaneously," Iversen said. "But it is crucial for SAHG's existence that all members consider it a priority and regard it as a full-time band, rather than a project."
SAHG has posted a new song, "Ascent to Decadence", on its MySpace page.
The band filmed a video for the song "Pyromancer" on January 26-27 with director Asle Birkeland, who has previously created clips for ENSLAVED and AUDREY HORNE. According to the band, "the script is promised to be loaded with prophetic mystique and blazing sorcery, and will be a vivid visualisation of the song's theme on supernatural spiritual powers."
SAHG premiered the song "Ascent to Decadence" at the five-year-anniversary celebration/party for "Pyro", a Norwegian hard rock radio show, at Hulen in Bergen, Norway. Watch video footage of the performance below.