Sabbath Assembly - Rites of Passage [Svart Records - 2017]Sabbath Assembly burst onto the rock scene in 2010 with their sublime debut album Restored to One. A masterpiece of psychedelic occult rock, the album took the scene by storm, featuring the vocal talents of Jessica Toth (Jex Thoth) their brand of Process Church infused psychedelia was a tonic to the soul. A masterpiece of occult rock to rival the greats, Toth’s vocals were the icing on the cake, the songs, or perhaps we should call them hymns, were hypnotic and beautiful and owed more to Jefferson Airplane and Coven than to more recent bands. Seven years later, Toth left the band after one album to be replaced by Jamie Myers, formerly of Hammers of Misfortune and Wolves in the ThroneRoom. Myers tenure started off a little unsatisfactorily for me, the band dropped their psychedelic leanings in favour of a straight forward metal vibe.
Rites of Passage, their sixth album sees the band’s sound evolve again. This time for the better, the psychedelic vibes of the debut have returned, however the band have created something of a hybrid album, mixing elements of Restored to One with their other material. Interestingly the band seem to be developing their own unique sound, and as such have begun to find their way again.
Shadow’s Again opens the album up and whilst it is still heavy, there is a real vintage doom sound to the riffs, Myers voice sounds great, she really suits this style of music well. Angel’s Trumpets is up next and takes the tempo down as we head into psychedelic territory, coming on more like the music of the debut, there is a real hypnotic, hymnal quality to the vocals, there is a real sense of dread emanating from the very core of this track and it gives a great sense of a band rediscovering their place in the world. I Must Be Gone is up next and instantly the vocals remind me of Hymn of Consecration, beautiful and hypnotic, however the track lacks that instantaneous catchy sing a long quality that sets Hymn of Consecration apart as one of the great tracks of the modern occult rock era.
Does Love Die begins with some beautiful acoustic guitar while Myers’ versatile voice causes chills to run up and down the spine. This is definitely the sound of a band rediscovering themselves. Building slowly the track is among my favourites on the album and has a wonderfully atmospheric feel to it. Twilight of God sticks with the psychedelic witchy vibes, those beautiful guitar lines are back and the whole band sound more comfortable than they have for some time. Seven Sermons for the Dead is probably the heaviest track on the album, however it preserves the witchy resonances of the previous couple of tracks. Final track The Bride of Darkness is a perfect amalgamation of the band’s styles, heavy, and yet beautifully psychedelic. It works to bring the album to its conclusion and seems an appropriate way to end the ritual.
Sabbath Assembly have produced an album worthy of the name. It doesn’t quite match up to their debut, however it is such a pleasure to hear the band rediscovering their roots and creating something that resonates with fans of not only Restored to One, but also of bands like Coven, Black Widow and Atomic Rooster. It’s taken them a few years to get back on track, however I am now of the opinion they are moving in the right direction.Darren Charles