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Albums | Sahg - Born Demon


Ik volg dit Noorse drietal (soms zijn ze ook met vier) rond mainstay Olaf Iversen sinds hun debuut (Sahg I, 2006). Het is zo één van die bands die héél consequent vasthouden aan hun sound uit de begindagen, zonder zichzelf te herhalen, oerdegelijke albums maken en toch maar niet lijken door te breken naar een ruim publiek. De reden is eigenlijk simpel: ze hebben nog nooit een minder album gemaakt, maar er springt ook niets écht uit. Die paar songs of dat éne album dat een rits klassiekers herbergt waarmee ze zichzelf eens in die picture spelen. Of dat onderscheidend element waardoor ze boven zichzelf - en anderen in het genre - uitstijgen.


Dat is ook het verhaal van Born Demon, dat ik bijna links had laten liggen. Zes jaar na het machtige Memento Mori is er instant herkenning vanaf de eerste tonen van Fall Into The Fire: oerdegelijke, klassieke heavy metal met een doom infusie. Misschien met iets meer 'melodie/catchiness' dan op hun voorgaande albums en dat was toch even wennen. De vaart zit er gedurende twee nummers goed in (hence 'heavy metal') tot er gas terug genomen wordt bij het titelnummer (hence 'doom infuus'). Wat me toch telkens weer doet overstag gaan is het feit dat Iversen wel oorwurmrefreinen kan pennen die je vlot kan meebrullen, maar steeds een gezonde dosis heavyness bewaart. De overall sound is nl. loodzwaar, donker en vol qua productie.


Best grappig is dat ik, toch vanaf Evil Immortal, invloeden van de jonge Ozzy Osbourne hoor, zowel in de riffs (Jake E. Lee anyone) als de zang. Ik moet toegeven, zou de 'prince of fucking darkness' nog zo potig uit de hoek komen, ik kocht meteen terug zijn albums. Ook bij het sterke Killer Spirit spelen de Noren leentjebuur bij de gramps en zijn iconische band uit de jaren zeventig/tachtig. No worries, ze doen dat goed, zonder klakkeloos te kopiëren. Voor ze eruit gaan met het epische Destroyer of the Earth, krijgen we een leuke verrassing: Heksedans, in de mother tonge, is nl. de metal versie van Jan Eggum's pophit uit 1977. Vergelijk gerust het leuke origineel met de deze straffe versie. Beide mogen er zijn.


Releasedatum: 21 oktober 2022



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Every great band has a moment when everything falls elegantly into place. Norway’s premier exponents of thunderous and doomy metal, Sahg have finally reached theirs. 16 years on from the release of the band’s debut album, Sahg I, they are poised to return in 2022 with their sixth and finest studio record, Born Demon. A bombastic tour-de-force of high-octane, post-Sabbath riffing and meticulously crafted and macabre songwriting, Born Demon represents a total renewal for this most elusive of overdriven crews.


Formed by singer/guitarist Olav Iversen in Bergen, Norway, in 2004, although plainly rooted in that ever-fruitful ‘70s rock and proto-metal bedrock, they have spent the last 16 years continually reinventing their sound. From the crushing doom majesty of 2008’s Sahg II to the psych-fuelled reveries of 2013’s Delusions Of Grandeur, Iversen and his comrades have brought great individuality and a liberated artistic mindset to the table. Equally renowned as a live band of skull-rattling distinction, Sahg seemed to reach a new peak of inspiration on 2016’s Memento Mori, wherein new recruits Ole Walaunet (guitar) and Mads Lilletvedt (drums) added extra fire to another blazing pyre of huge riffs. But time always takes its toll: as thoughts of a worthy follow-up began to circulate, Sahg were laid low by the departure of Ole Walaunet.


“We’ve had our part of members leaving the band and having to find new ones,” explains Iversen. “But that was a turning point. We decided to not go through that whole process again. Instead, we decided to reform the band as a trio.”


As showcased on Born Demon, Sahg are newly reborn as a three-headed monster. Arguably heavier and more dynamic than any previous incarnation of the band, the blistering power trio that emerges on the Norwegians ’new album is what happens when great musicians allow instinct to take over.


“A while after Ole left, we eventually decided that we still wanted to be a band,” Iversen recalls. “Then we thought we might go on as a trio but have the lead guitarist as a session player. But did we want a fourth member? After we had the months off, doing nothing with the band at all, we decided to meet and jam, just to see what happens. We had no expectations. Very soon, new ideas started happening, new songs started taking shape and it was obvious that this line-up had something going for it.”


(...)


“This all feels like what we are meant to do,” Iversen admits. “When it comes to the lyrics, they’re much looser than they used to be, a bit tongue-in-cheek even. Like Fall Into The Fire, which is a song about somebody who meets the Devil’s daughter out on the town one night, and goes to bed with her. Then he finds out who she is, and who her father is, and they’re coming to get him, to pull him down to Hell and torture him! That kind of thing is something I would never have written for a Sahg song just a few years ago. On this album we’ve boiled it all down to the pure essence of what we are and what we’ve always been, which is heavy metal, in its purest form.”


In sonic terms, Born Demon is a vibrant and visceral experience. Palpably live-sounding and scabrous with rough edges, it also exerts a level of bowel-rattling power that only a truly old school recording could achieve. Proudly flying the flag for the sound of a real band playing in real time, this band has remained true to their original ethos.


“This time, we decided early on that we wanted to produce it ourselves. We’ve worked with producers on all the other albums, but now we know exactly what we want this to be, so why not do it ourselves? We rented Polyfon Studio in Bergen, an old radio studio. It’s got a big room, all covered in old wood, and it sounds fantastic. We used the room to capture the volume and the energy of what the band sounds like now. We worked with a couple of friends of ours who are really good technicians, who helped us achieve exactly the sound we wanted.”


Bolstered by the mercurial talents of mixing/mastering wizard Russ Russell (Napalm Death/Dimmu Borgir), Born Demon is an unstoppable torrent of dark charm, epic riffing and razor-sharp songwriting. Sahg have made great records before, but none as gritty, humble and gripping as this one. A victory plucked from the jaws of uncertainty, Born Demon is the beginning of an exhilarating new chapter.


“Everything feels easier and better with just three people,” Iversen concludes. “But every one of us needed to put more energy into their performances, to fill the space. Now, this feels like our heaviest record so far. The sound we’ve created is stronger than anything we’ve done before.”


-Dom Lawson, June 2022



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