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Darkness falls

Formed in 2004, Sahg is a four-piece Norwegian metal band with its star on the rise. Sahg — which comprises Olav Iversen on guitars and vocals, Thomas Tofthagen on guitars, King on bass and Tor on drums — was part of the Wacken Open Air festival in the north of Germany in 2007 and is also billed to perform at the 2008 edition of the Metal Camp fest.

Primarily hard rock devotees influenced by classic heavy metal, Sahg’s sound weaves in an organic energy within the metal heaviness, thus creating a unique blend of melodic passages carried forward by dirge-like heavy riffs. The band was on a three-city tour of India this month as part of Rock Street Journal’s Great Indian Rock extravaganza. Frontman/guitarist Olav speaks to t2 on the Indian rock scene and the importance of space in music...

How has the response been on your first tour of India?

Considering this is our first tour, the shows have been very good. We just loved the audiences in Delhi, Mumbai and Shillong. It has been a fantastic experience.

Did you get to catch Indian bands in action?

We don’t know much about the Indian scene. We saw a few of them through GIR, and most of them played metal. Let’s just say that some of these bands are really, really impressive. They are mature enough to take their music outside India. One of them would be Scribe (from Mumbai), who played with us in Shillong. Their music is really cool.

As for your sound, who are your primary influences?

Well, Sahg’s main influence is classic heavy metal bands like Dio, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. We have all been playing in different bands in Norway, and we formed Sahg in 2004. Unlike much of the metal that’s happening all around us, we try to retain an organic energy in our music, which is a throwback to the classic heavy metal era.

What attracts such a large number of Scandinavian bands to metal?

That’s a good question; I’m not sure! I mean, as genres go, there’s Norwegian black metal and Swedish death metal, and both these forms have been huge influences on the global metal scene; you know, bands like Venom. For us, I guess the things we write come from the whole culture where we belong. Norse mythology is a very important influence on both the words and the music we write.

What’s your view on American metal? How is Scandinavian metal different?

They write lyrics differently, they’re concerned about bigger issues and musically speaking, are focused on heaviness. But I feel there’s little dynamics in play. If you play a five-minute track with unrelenting heaviness, it gets a little static. The art of heavy metal is about dynamics — so that the heavy parts actually feel heavy. There are not too many bands that do that.

One of the bands from America that we all really like is Tool. They’re definitely one of our influences, consciously or otherwise.

And what’s your opinion on metal in India?

Like I said, we’re really impressed. I just hope that the scene grows, that the festivals keep happening. There’s now a foundation for rock and metal music in India. That’s an important part of the scene: if that foundation is solid and more and more bands are coming in to showcase their art, it will definitely bloom into bigger things.

Arka Das
Which is your favourite metal band in India?

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