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Sabbath Assembly – Ye Are Gods

When Christ and Satan absolve their enmity at the end of the world it shall signal the end of Hell and the beginning of Heaven. The end of duality and the beginning of unity. God is in four parts: Jehovah, Satan, Lucifer, and Christ, and each represents a facet of the human experience. This allegorical, Gnostic vision is the guiding principle of the Process Church of the Final Judgement, one of the most unique religious expressions of the past 50+ years. Rumoured to be infamously linked with fascism, Charles Manson, Satanism, and cult activity of all kinds the Church has endured through endless adversity. Their unorthodox message of love is found amidst layers of blasphemy, and expressed through their beautiful and unique gospels. Love completely counter to the empty, mindless love of their 60’s flower-power contemporaries. Their menacing moments have left an ever-present bad taste in the mouths of ignorant storytellers. Regardless of how history will remember the Process Church, it is no less of a religious movement with a real and powerful output of liturgical materials. Today, Sabbath Assembly  is the name of whatever current incarnation exists of this purely religious music. They are dedicated to paying homage to and recapturing the music actually performed in the rites and rituals of the Church. With one collection of music already in existence expressing the more exoteric side of the Process Church, “Ye Are Gods” explores the highest and most sacred text through a more conscious approach to proselytization. There is truly nothing like the uplifting experience of gospel hymns proclaiming the glory of Satan and Lucifer! 

The term “religious music” seems to have the ability to frighten even the hardest of personalities, especially when “Christ” and “Jehovah” enter the mix. Instant Christian connotations flood to mind and the off-put is almost immediate. However, nothing but pure intent echoes through the current Sabbath Assembly’s slightly psyche-folk tinged gospel delivery. Previous effort “Restored to One” was decidedly more psyche-rock and soul based with the powerful vocals of Jex Thoth, whereas “Ye Are Gods” feels like an actual church hymnal in process. Led by scriptural readings and accompanied by choirs and hypnotic melodies all meant to enchant the listener – cult-like perhaps, but this was material meant for inner Church members. Unmistakeable hymns like “Exit” have all of the trappings of a beautiful uplifting gospel song – “There is an exit from confusion, an exit from despair, there is an exit for everyone, an exit that we can share” – All the more powerfully made when one realizes that this exit is the partnership between Christ and Satan! Just as all religions have spawned fascinating moments of art and music, there are actual sublime moments amongst this often kitschy cult’s music, more so than most others. Rarely can so many a moving moment be found in apocalyptic music.

Song writing is based more upon acoustic instrumentation and powerful vocalization, easily performed by a church band between scriptures and homilies. Acoustic picked and strummed guitars dance between pianos, glockenspiels, and organs. There are moments of power that call for the strike of electric guitars, but they are few and far between, tastefully inserted when needed. Plain and simple, this is gospel music. Twisted, dark, and slightly unsettling at times, but gospel music nonetheless. The essence of the time period is captured alongside the spiritual concerns, as this is so clearly music that emanated from the 1970’s with the finest pop sensibilities. The soulful guitar solo, the soaring vocal runs, the campfire-side moments – even the recording techniques give the music a crackling, slightly flawed quality that gives the impression of music frozen in a certain moment of time. The voice of Jamie Myers is hauntingly gorgeous and intensely versatile, whereas Jex Thoth had power like no other in her voice but lacked in effective dynamics. Myers can give that powerful delivery, she can give life to standard gospel, and she can bring a light mood through subdued beauty. Alongside her, Genesis P-Orridge delivers readings throughout the album, giving the effect of call-and-response between priest and flock. They (as P-Orridge would like to be called) give a pointed juxtaposition to the sultry and beautiful voices through straight forward declarations of Church doctrine.

It is hard to really understand the Process Church, as it is equally hard to understand the true intensions of the performers within Sabbath Assembly (US). Are these true adherents to the words they are proclaiming? Or are these themes at work just attractive to people already involved in dark and fringe music? For the past and present roster is an impressive collection of musicians of the counter-culture. “Ye Are Gods” alone sees the pairing of Jamie Myers from Hammers of Misfortune and Genesis P-Orridge as the mouthpieces of this proclamation. Clearly, belief is fluid for Mr./Ms. P-Orridge, but the others perhaps are reveling in the kitsch and danger of cult music. Or perhaps the message truly is so powerful that the honour is theirs to perform it. Truly there is nothing shocking from an enlightened point of view, free from the heavy boot of Christian oppression, and honestly it is a message of love and wisdom in the face of apocalyptic conflagration.

“Ye Are Gods” is a much more dynamic and hauntingly dogmatic album, and Sabbath Assembly has asserted that they were not just a one-off band but a collective capable of evolution. The entity is mysterious in their fluid members and sounds, allowing for a fresh approach every time. But, the shreds of similarity strangely do hold a band like this together as a unit. Whether it is a relevantly moving experience or just a snapshot of odd history, the musical quality on this album exists outside of specific beliefs. Here are songs that could take hold of anyone, as they are constructed to be so pleasing and attractive to actual and potential worshipers. Love is the prevailing word proclaimed amidst the prophesized doom – a strangely relevant prophecy – and that is a sentiment that we would all like to share. Perhaps it is the effectiveness of religious cult music, but there is a unifying force at work in line with the unity expressed in the Process mythology. It certainly will make believers and uniquely pious followers of us yet, in one form or another.

“If love is what we seek then we must know hate, if joy is what we seek then we must know pain.”

Rating: 5/5
Written by: S. Hache
Label: Svart Records (FI) /Ajna Offensive (US)
Tracklisting:

1. Let Us All Give Praise And Validation
2. We Come From The One
3. Bless Our Lord And Master
4. We Give Our Lives
5. Exit
6. Christ You Bring The End
7. And The Clarion Calls
8. In The Time Of Abaddon II
9. Transcendence
10. For The Love Of The Gods