Not every heavy metal band can expect to chart in the top 40 and have a centerfold spread in the biggest national newspaper for a debut album. Sahg can. With their gloomy chords, ten ton rhythms and evident devotion to seventies heavy metal, the Bergen quartet had the audience and critics toss their hats in the air with excitement. 'Sahg I' (2006) filled a void in the Norwegian metal fauna, and was an indisputable success in Norway, as well as abroad. The album got 10 out of 10 points in German Rock Hard Magazine, and 8 out of 10 in Metal Hammer UK. The success of the debut album brought the band on a North American tour, as opening act for extreme metal legends Celtic Frost, and made Sahg 'the one to watch' at a string of metal festivals across Europe, still with only one album under the belt.
Two years later, Sahg confirmed their status as Norway's indisputable doom lords. Many considered 'Sahg II' as a more refined album than the debut, and featuring spearhead tracks like Echoes Ring Forever and Pyromancer, the second album became another door-opener for the quartet. In the wake of the album release, the band toured Europe as support act to the legendary doomers Trouble, played huge arenas across India, and performed at prestigious festivals like Wacken Open Air, Inferno, and Metalcamp.
Fast forward to 2010. After a three years long, backbreaking hunt for a successor to original drummer Kvitrafn, Sahg eventually found the right successor in Thomas Lönnheim. With the new drummer in place and buckets of regained energy, Sahg started work on their third album. This time, the approach was to sound more direct and immediate, and let the riff be the centerpoint, without a lot of complex arrangements and excessive instrumentation. The result was a fistful of potential heavy rock classics, one moment heavily inspired by old-school thrash, the next, spiced with some modern prog rock elements, in the likes of Mastodon. Sahg III is the sound of a band that has taken some clever steps toward perfecting an already solid expression, and keep the fans excited about the band and its music, magic, myth and mystique.
'Sahg III' was unleashed August 30, 2010. Shortly after, Sahg headed out on a European tour, along with none less than fellow Norwegians Dimmu Borgir and Enslaved. The tour kicked off at London Forum on September 21, and went on for eleven dates across Europe. The Norwegian crusade terminated with a sold out show at Sentrum Scene in Oslo, on October 18th.
2011 called for another line-up change, when King left Sahg, to prioritize other projects. But this time, the replacement was an easy one. Tony Vetaas had been standing in for King at several concert occasions in the past. He was very much into the vibe and the mindset of the band, and was more than ready to take on the job. With long experience in metal bands Deride and Lost At Last, acting as a singer as well as guitarist and bass player, he also brought new vocal force to the band. A new potential that surely would put its mark on Sahg's future sound.
When the time came to start working on album number four, it became clear that it was time for a change. With three albums done in only five years, based on a lot of the same influences and philosophy, it would be easy to fall into the trap of getting lazy, start repeating the recipe, and make music on auto-pilot. The band realized the need to revitalize the expression, and was ripe to take a few big steps onward musically. It was time to add something new to the mix, and get rid of some of the old ingredients, take some twists and find a new approach on making music.
Still unafraid to call upon the powers of doom, Sahg took a more progressive and experimental approach on their fourth album, 'Delusions Of Grandeur' (2013). The concept album is based on the story of a modest and quiet character who changes into being obsessively controlling and self-centered, and ends up slipping off the edge of his autocratic, imaginary universe. 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, it moves further away from Sahg's original 'classic metal' sound, and expands the band's expression in a more progressive, 'spaced out' direction. But the heaviness and gloom still remains the foundation of Sahg's signature sound.
After another European tour, including support appearances for Iron Maiden, Clutch, and Sólstafir, plus performing at major European festivals like Sweden Rock and Summer Breeze, came another line-up change, as guitarist Thomas Tofthagen and drummer Thomas Lønnheim both left the band in the beginning of 2015. Although their departure from the band happened peacefully, it raised a major challenge for Sahg's future, with half the band leaving at the same time. Guitarist Ole Walaunet, renowned in the Bergen Metal scene for his skills as a guitar player and composer, had already done session duties for Sahg on two previous tours. He was a natural top choice for the role as new lead guitarist, and didn't hesitate when offered to join the band permanently. Mads Lilletvedt had experience as a drummer in several bands in the Bergen scene, and his expressive style of drumming brings a new edge to Sahg’s sound.
With the two new members in place, Sahg is once again fully invigorated, and more than ready to begin a new chapter in the band’s history. The fifth album is in the making, due for release in sepytember 2016. Reports from the crypt hint that the band will continue to evolve in the direction of atmospheric Doom Metal, tinged with Prog and cosmic Psychedelia. So expect the unexpected when the new Sahg album is unveiled in the near future!
- Olav Iversen, vocals & guitar
- Tony Vetaas, bass & vocals
- Ole Walaunet, lead guitar
- Mads Lilletvedt, drums