Sabbath Assembly, the devotional brainchild of percussionist Dave “Xtian” Nuss based on the teachings of the controversial Process Church of the Final Judgment, is back with their third release Quaternity. Perhaps a record titled Quaternity ought to have been their fourth (rumor has it from a little bird that there IS a record the band recorded before Restored To One that may see the light of day at some point). Regardless, this is a beautiful and powerful release for the group. This is sacred folk music/metal that unites concepts of light and shadow into a concise worldview with an emphasis on being a well rounded person. Every Sabbath Assembly release has been simply stunning, but the newest record shifts styles and focuses on more acoustic based yet heavily layered compositions than the sort of retro sound of the previous two records. 12 string, cello, viola, acoustic bass, orchestra bells, gong, wind chime, timpani, and haunting vocals all make appearances in standout single “Jehovah on Death”, for example. Some of it almost sounds like less-obtuse Death In June meets early Genesis meets, I dunno, Fairport Convention.
Some of the material reminds me of the more folksy side of vocalist Jamie Myers previous group Hammers of Misfortune, but that is far too simple and easy a comparison. Many layered vocals, sparse percussion at times near obsessive attention to detail make this an unforgettable experience.
“Whatever their need to be master of the game shall be chaff in the wind beside my Universe,” sings Myers. Her voice is so intoxicating you almost believe she did make the world, as this record certainly takes you out of the mundane and into realms of pure inspiration.
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Dealing with Jung’s idea of the sacred feminine or a suppressed cthonic nature of man being absent from the Trinity and a “fourfold nature of man and his relationship to the divine”, the record tackles heady themes. still, not a note on this gem is subordinate to concept in a way that hampers the music if heard outside of context. This is just a great release. Special guest appearances, among others, from Kevin Hufnagel of Gorguts as well as stunning, low and crooning male vocals from Pinkish Black’s Daron Beck are icing on the cake at Satan, Lucifer, Jehovah and Christ’s big party.Lucifer is again the light bearer, Satan the source of primal strength, Jehovah the vengeful destroyer, and Christ the master of death.
Many will undoubtedly be drawn to the first single “Jehovah on Death”, the delicate and soul moving, brain etching glory of ‘”The Burning Cross of Christ” or the near twenty minute composition “The Four Horseman”. While these are undoubtedly major triumphs for the band, the track “Lucifer” stood out to me as nearly up there with the best material in Mark Lanegan or Nick Cave’s repertoire. I feel that often in music today there is too much emotional compromise. Emotion is auto tuned and compressed or safe at best. When was the last time you heard a song as unhinged and vulnerable yet power-claiming as Tool’s “Prison Sex” in the mainstream, for example? Sure, we have Lorde nowadays as a breath of fresh air in the zeitgeist, but that’s not enough. The world is too busy worrying about Simon Cowell’s new baby or if Alec Baldwin is racist/homophobic (he’s not), while powers that be are meanwhile raping them dry and adjusting interest rates to fiddle with world economies as we stay indentured servants, if not outright slaves. Sabbath Assembly remind the ear, heart and mind that real craft, real music, real worship of the Universe AND the self as empowered living vessel is still out there. Embrace and walk through flames.