Metal has gone through a sizable growth spurt over the past decade, which has seen it branch out in exciting (and some not-so-exciting) directions. I guess it was inevitable that we’d eventually see a rash of younger bands embracing heavy metal’s early daze.
For Norwegian melodic metallers Sahg, what started out as a side project for members of various Norwegian metal bands (including, at one time, a member of notorious black metal band Gorgoroth), has since moved well beyond that. Released in Europe in October of last year, Delusions of Grandeur—the band’s fourth full-length—is finally seeping its way into American bloodstreams with a stateside release from Metal Blade Records.
Delusions continues Sahg’s precise and polished interpretation of classic heavy metal, including ’70s prog, NWOBHM and the American thrash movement that followed. But rather than latching on to one particular sound, or aiming to be a cheap throwback, Sahg deftly takes classic elements—galloping rhythms, dexterous drumming and soaring, melodic vocals—and brings them into metal’s brave new world.
In fact, opener “Slip Off the Edge of the Universe” hits on all of those touchstones in its six-minute running time, while the sprawling and epic bookend “Sleeper’s Gate to the Galaxy” takes things even a step further. In between you have songs like “Firechild” and “Then Wakens the Beast,” which take on the more bite-sized and ear-friendly approach of bands like Mastodon and Red Fang. That could turn off metalheads who like it a little blacker and more menacing. But even when Sahg unsheathes brain-burrowing hooks, they still wield enough mystical power and shred-worthy moments to make things challenging.
Delusions of Grandeur sees Sahg tidying and tightening up their sound. Where their previous albums (titled I, II and III) leaned a little heavier on the doom and employed scrappier production, Delusions is a fully formed mythical beast ready to lay waste to a new frontier.