Review Summary: No delusions here-Sahg have simply created their career-defining album.
Though the band name may suggest otherwise, Sahg have not one little bit in common with extreme metal. Sure, many will merely discover that the band's country of origin is none other than Norway and think to themselves “CVLT BLACK METAL”, but one listen to “Slip off the edge of the universe”, the opening track to the band's latest album Delusions of grandeur
, and those first-glance genre boundaries will be quashed immediately.
Sahg have been active for nine years, with four albums to their name, yet their presence in the world of rock or indeed metal doesn't seem to have been recognized by many. No surprise then, given the band's choice of content for the majority of their songs. That is, the feeling of floating alone within the outer realms of space, the idea of falling into deep unconsciousness and the human desire to learn as much as one man's frail mind can take. Conceptually speaking, Delusions of grandeur
is based solely around the life of a man who, day by day, becomes more and more powerful until he is given the title of “almighty ruler of the universe”, eventually becoming so self-confident that he “falls through space to his death”. As disconcerting as this sounds, the band have certainly done their homework. They cite Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece 2001: A space odyssey
as a direct influence, and it does seem to play a vital role in the album's overall message. With Delusions of grandeur
, Sahg have managed to create a sound that could be mistaken for the soundtrack to that film. That's NOT an exaggeration.
However, where the music is concerned, some are bound to be put off, whilst others may fall in love immediately. The main problem (and let's face it, the only problem) here is that a few of the songs constantly bring to mind Crack the Skye-era Mastodon. And this is the album we're talking about, not the song. As rich and vast in sound as songs such as “Blizzardborne” or “Then wakens the beast” are, you just can't shake off the leftover sounds still ringing in your mind from Mastodon's past. It's so uncanny it almost seems like Mastodon are taking over at times, but it isn't too much of a bother, since Sahg have naturally crafted their own unique style without any help.
What really helps Delusions of grandeur
is the way in which each song changes its mood almost immediately, whilst still keeping the wonderful musical flow. Take “Walls of delusion” and “Ether” for example. Whereas the former owes a lot to the heavier side of 70s metal with its massive grooves and bluesy hooks, the latter revels in mesmerizing, spacey sounds against endless waves of fuzzy guitars and booming bass-lines, something which inevitably wouldn't sound out of place on any of Hawkwind's first five albums. There's also the last two songs, arguably the pinnacle of Sahg's level of songwriting and talent. “Odium delerium”, the album's only instrumental jam, begins to sound as if something's missing-and if you're thinking vocals, then you're definitely right. Yet within a minute of electrifying instrumentation which constantly thrills the casual listener with its warm, upbeat vibes, everything seems to fit together nicely, producing an energetic performance which never actually ends until the opening moments its successor. “Sleeper's gate to the galaxy” is simply where every aspect of the band's talent fuses into one in the form of an epic 11-minute opus, serving as the centrepiece of Delusions of grandeur
. Although it takes a fair few minutes to truly get going, the song very rarely lets up on musical quality. With his enchanting vocals, Olav slowly but surely creates a multitude of feelings, crafted within head-scratching albeit eventually comprehensible lyrics, and together with the exquisite technicality of the rhythm section it all seems as if it's going to be a lengthy ballad, before the vocalist shows his metallic edge and roars through a wall of loud, distorted sound . It echoes everything that the band may or may not have succeeded with in the past, and certainly resurrects the mind-blowing intensity which is prominent on other similarly enigmatic songs such as “Firechild” and “Ether”.
There's nothing more to say about Delusions of grandeur
, except that it is most definitely the career-defining album Sahg wanted to create ever since their inception in 2004. It has to be listened to carefully-in fact, reading along to the lyrics will help you understand the band's sole intention when creating Delusions of grandeur
-but there is certainly a special something here which may convert you to music of a more forward-thinking style.