Doom Metal doesn’t always need to be a depressing and slow-churning affair. Sure, the grim atmosphere and melancholy mist that surrounds the genre’s mournful vocals and booming bass-play are two key elements to what Doom is all about – very much onomatopoeia – but said vocals and four-string action can also be whipped into something remarkable and altogether vibrant.
Case in point is the third full-length release by Norway’s super-rocking quartet, SAHG. Aptly and simply titled “III,” SAHG play a boisterous brand of Doom and Heavy Metal that harks back about 35 or 40 years and into a time when 1970’s Heavy Metal and the grooving evil riffing of BLACK SABBATH’s Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler could do no wrong.
In the vein of GRAND MAGUS and the aforementioned BLACK SABBATH, SAHG do an excellent job of reinstituting the sound of the old into the realm on the new. It’s a modern reboot that really outshines all other impostors and blowhards that desperately want to fuck their heroes and instead of paying respectful homage. It’s not the most original album of the year, but goddamn if it’s not one of the most well-rounded and memorable.
Best blared, SAHG play a huge, melodic style of Doom and Heavy Metal. Traditional rock and roll song structures are used to great effect and “III” ensures a full and lasting listening experience that demands replay value with its large assortment of awesome hooks and meaty, pounding rhythms. Vocal duties are once again in the charge of Ozzy-ite extraordinaire Olav Iversen who delivers an impeccable performance of well-timed bravado singing.
Although the album’s closer “Spiritual Void” is less mighty than “III”s other eight full tracks – track one is a quick instrumental intro – there is truthfully not a weak or mediocre song in the recording. “Baptism of Fire” gets things rolling with some mean Metal riffing and a soaring chorus, “Hollow Mountain,” my favorite on the album, is a huge and expressive Doom showcase that has bassist Tom Cato Visnes of GORGOROTH fame hammering his strings with all his strength, and “Denier” is an energetic jolt of all things Metal with its incredible pace and astoundingly cool chorus.
If you’re a Doom fan, a BLACK SABBATH fan, a GRAND MAGUS fan, or just your everyday Metalhead, give SAHG’s “III” a whirl. This one deserves your attention.
(Online January 11, 2011)