SAHG + support [live review]

Sahg, Tombstones, Scornful
Familien, Trondheim, 1/10/15

Decisions, decisions, decisions.  Four stages of quality metal ‘warming-up’ for Trondheim Metal Fest (October 1-3) all running at exactly the same time and all in different club venues?  What is this heavenly hell?

Catering for all ages over at Kultersenteret ISAK, the New Blood Stage saw the appearance of locals Endogenic and Strandhugg, relative locals Halcyon Days (Oslo) and Akarusa Yami over from bonnie British shores.  Did someone say ‘djent?  Or was that ‘core’?  Sorry, kids, it’s a ‘no’ from me.

On more safe and familiar grounds, Good Omens was treated to a barrage of hits from Battery and Ovërhead, the premier tribute acts to Metallica and Motörhead, respectively, and apparently.  At least one of them would no doubt be better than the genuine article, but I’ll leave it to you to decide for yourself which one.  Also on offer were Baghera: a Pantera tribute – who’d have thought it, eh?  I’ll pass, thanks.

So that leaves us with two options: The Black Stage hosted by Fru Lundgreen and The Doom Stage over at Familien.  Iskald versus Sahg.  The intrigue of Norwegian traditionalists Troldskugge and formerly Tehran-based From The Vastland versus the guaranteed guitar groove and headbang inducing rhythm of Scornful and Tombstones?

Well, sometimes it’s good to be predictable.  Doom on.

Preparing for their imminent jaunt to Eastern-Europe, Trondheim locals Scornful kick-off the evening with a heavy set of doom-influenced metal that has a definite modern twist to it.  There’s obvious traditional doom weight in the riffs, but the groove is spliced with of-the-moment time changes and youthfully harsh vocals.  Despite this evening being the debut of the band’s new bassist and drummer, they give an undaunted performance, deserving of a far bigger audience than that which has found its way to the intimate venue (6.5/10).

Stealing the evening, Tombstones throw, flail and lunge themselves head on into the reverberations of their stoner doom sound cloud.  Slow, steady and surging grooves colliding with reaching, impassioned vocals from ardent frontman Bjørn-Viggo Godtland make for a set which does a lot more than just warm-up or simply match the reputable headliners.  Tombstones: as heavy weight and deadly serious as the name suggests (8/10).

Sahg are good, perhaps if it hadn’t been for Tombstones they’d be very good; but they’re not good enough to live-up to the hype.  Disappointing, especially given the desire to be proved wrong and for the live incarnation to finally make the underwhelming albums click.

Heresy!  Well, if you want.  But seeing a band with the both the hope and expectation to be convinced, and yet remaining not quite so, is fairly telling.  Sahg may have a weight of experience, coupled with generally well-received material behind them, but in this instance, there’s no overt effort to push the muscle of the riffs or the potential for performance.  At least not as much as their burgeoning supporting acts do.  The sense of urgency and the essential feeling that the band need to deliver the music is missing.

All said, Sahg have the songs behind them to fulfil the needs of a headline set, and for the sufficient number of fans in attendance, the band deliver (7/10).

And as a warm-up gig for the main event, of course, the doom delivers.

NB: keep eyes peeled for the full Trondheim Metal Fest review.  More details in good time, friends…

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