Concept albums are commonly considered among music aficionados to be very much a niche market of sorts. This is really quite interesting considering that they are to music as serials are to television. Yet audiences are more apt to pay attention to all of the serials that populate the television spectrum than any concept album ever crafted. However with the release of its fourth album Delusions of Grandeur, Bergen, Sweden’s Sahg has proven that the concept album is deserving of far more respect than it gets. As front man Olav Iversen explains of Delusions of Grandeur, “It’s an album about how desire for power and property can distort and destroy who we are.” He explains in more depth that the album follows a figure that becomes so wrapped up in his own belief of his greatness that it ultimately destroys him. It goes without saying that taking into account both this explanation and the album’s musical and lyrical side, Delusions of Grandeur is the band’s best work to date.
Right from the album’s outset, the members of Sahg show why this album is its best yet. Guitarist Thomas Tofthagen’s opening chords and drummer Thomas Lonnheim’s solid work excellently complement Iversen’s vocals in ‘Slip Off The Edge Of The Universe.’ Iversen sets the stage for the band’s story as he sings, “Master of Astropolis/Verging on the black abyss/Conquered all the eye can see/Hunger rages endlessly.” Iversen seems to be setting the stage for the album’s story here, with the subject in question standing on that proverbial edge, about to fall. The tone in Iversen’s voice serve’s to add to the emotion established by Tofthagen and Lonnheim. It is almost a tone of desperation. That strained tone paints a picture of a man that really is at the breaking point. One could almost argue that if this is indeed the case, the band has painted a sort of Faulknerian musical story with this setup. Sure, such story-telling method is used a lot. But Sahg has shown from this song alone that it has done quite the job of using that story-telling method. And it doesn’t stop here, either.
The band really steps things up when it reaches ‘Walls of Delusion.’ Yet again, Iversen and company have captured the emotion established by the song’s lyrical side within the context of their own roles in the song. The bombastic opening followed by the more subdued first verse is almost a musical foreshadowing of sorts. The song’s chorus proves that true as the band really pours it on. Iversen screams maniacally, “I own the air you breath/The ground beneath your feet/The things that make you be/They all belong to me.” As the song proceeds, listeners come to realize that this song is the point at which the album’s subject has finally gone mad. And the band expertly captures that madness. It proves to be one of the most impactful of moments throughout the course of the album, too.
Delusions of Grandeur proves throughout the course of its eight tracks why it is not just another standard concept album. The story told through the album’s lyrical side is one that few if any other band has ever told. And the manner in which it is told is just as original. The album’s lyrical side is just part of the equation. Its musical side does just as well in advancing the album’s story. That has already been noted with the songs noted here. However, there is one song in particular that holds its own advancing the story solely through musical means. That song is ‘Odium Delirium.’ The album’s penultimate song, it does an impressive job of setting up the story’s final movement. Its full throttle energy is a complete contradiction to the more subdued thoughts of the story’s subject in ‘Sleeper’s Gate to the Galaxy.’ The influences of the likes of Opeth and Mastodon are evident in this instrumental piece. And they are certain to impress fans of those bands just as much as any “chapter” of this concept album.
Audiences can experience the entire story that is Delusions of Grandeur now as it is available in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from the Metal Blade online store at http://www.metalblade.com/us/releases/sahg-delusions-of-grandeur/. It can also be downloaded via iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/album/id766150620. Sahg’s fans in Norway will get the chance to experience the band’s new music live as it will perform live in its hometown this Friday. That performance will be followed by performances in Bo, Norway and Asker, Norway on March 6th and 7th respectively. More tour dates are likely to be announced in the near future. To keep up with those tour announcements, fans can follow Sahg online at http://www.facebook.com/SahgBand and http://www.sahg.no. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.