I first saw this Norwegian outfit open for Celtic Frost and 1349 nearly a decade ago, and I liked ‘em so much, I bought their debut CD. Wasn’t as much of a fan of their sophomore effort, II, which came out in ’08… but I haven’t actually heard from them since. Not that they’ve gone anywhere; after switching from Regain Records to Indie Recordings, they put out two more albums that I simply haven’t seen on this side of the pond. So I’ve skipped a couple chapters in the Sahg saga, and here we are at album number five.
Memento Mori is actually filed under “Blues” on iTunes, though it has much more in common with the spacey prog of Pink Floyd than anything resembling the Mississippi Delta. That’s not to say there aren’t any heavy riffs on here—opening track “Black Unicorn” takes a pretty devastating dip about 90 seconds in, with a recurring heavy chorus offsetting a mellower verse. The first couple verses of “Devilspeed” actually border on thrash, as they replicate the fast-paced fury of High on Fire—albeit with a chorus that’s more Mastodon—before getting into more progressive territory around the midway mark. And it doesn’t get much more headbangable than the opening riff to eight-minute epic “Sanctimony,” a pretty decent, doomy track.
That being said, the heavy stoner grooves of their debut are much less common on this one. Much like New Keepers of the Water Towers, another Nordic band I recently rediscovered after a prolonged period, they seemed to have gotten softer somewhere over the past several years. Coincidentally, this record actually has more with NKOTWT’s debut than their last album did—which is to say they haven’t gone quite as soft as their Swedish counterparts.
Hey, if you prefer Opeth as a prog-rock outfit, you would probably dig this.