Review by Jason Guest
In an inbox brimming with black, death, doom, sludge, technical, prog, avant-garde, crust, grind, and more appears this, Ye Are Gods, the second album by Sabbath Assembly, a duo who take inspiration from a religious group that flourished in the 60s and 70s called The Process Church of The Final Judgement. Developed in the 60s by a client cult group from Scientology and labelled as “suppressive persons” (those declared enemies of the movement, naturally), they were viewed as Satanic because they worshipped both Christ and Satan, believing that the two will become reconciled to judge humanity at the end of the world. Okay, so you weren’t expecting a lesson in theology, but theology and Sabbath Assembly are inseparable. Where the horrible hordes that fill my inbox invariably come down on the side of the horned one and castigate the haloed one, Sabbath Assembly’s approach is wholly different.
Instead of affiliating themselves with one side of the binary opposition of good and evil, the Process’s theology is much more developed as it embraces that we are the embodiment of all the powers in the universe, positive and destructive, and in being aware of this, we can move ever closer to freeing ourselves from a self-destructive cycle that hinders our development as human beings. And so musically, instead of bashing their instruments to bits and recording the racket in a wind tunnel on a cassette recorder that’s been rotting in the store room of a house clearance charity shop since time began, Sabbath Assembly’s hymns – yes, hymns – are well-produced rituals that are as uplifting and moving as they are eerily powerful. There’s not one distorted guitar, no blast beats, and no menacing scowls. Rites are read against a backdrop of haunting ghostlike voices and praise is sung over joyous up-tempo chords. The melodies and harmonies are as beautiful as the salvation that their beliefs promise. The drums are caressed, the guitars are lovingly stroked, the organ and the electric piano is tickled, and utopian perfumes, bouquets and aromas fill the air.
As with their 2010 debut, Restored To One, this feels like a spiritual journey, an uplifting experience, as if just listening to it will somehow effect some form of transformation. Whether Sabbath Assembly actually believes what they sing – because it certainly sounds like they do – as uplifting as it all sounds, there is something chilling, paralysing even, about the experience. That it’s all delivered without the vaguest hint of irony is unsettling, yes, but more than that, it’s that the destruction of the world and humanity as we know it sounds so appealing by the time ‘Transcendence’ comes around that’s so alarming. Eccentric, thought-provoking and utterly fascinating, such a peculiarity has to be heard to be believed.
7.5 out of 10
- Visit Sabbath Assembly on Facebook here
- And you can read Jason’s interview with Sabbath Assembly’s Dave “Christian” Nuss here
- Let Us All Give Praise And Validation
- We Come From The One
- Bless Our Lord And Master
- We Give Our Lives
- Christ, You Begin The End
- And The Clarion Calls
- In The Time Of Abaddon II
- The Love Of The Gods