Archive for the 'The Process' Category

Apr 01 2014

Sabbath Assembly – Quaternity

As It Is…

Sabbath Assembly - Quaternity

Sabbath Assembly – Quaternity

Sabbath Assembly is back with a third album, Quaternity, based on concepts and beliefs The Process Church of the Final Judgment.

I’ll admit, I was nervous about this album. The Process Church ceased to be some time ago (despite rumors that they’re responsible for all kinds of evil), and I was wondering when the well of hymns would either dry up, or feel too limiting.

I loved their first album (Restored to One), which reminded me of a delicious mix of Coven, and Jesus  music. Looking for more music like this led me to Jex Thoth (vocalist on the first Sabbath Assembly album), and the band Blood Ceremony (also highly recommended).  I honestly expected Sabbath Assembly to be a one-off band, and was pleasantly surprised when they returned with a second album of hymns (and a new and no less impressive vocalist in Jamie Myers), Ye Are Gods

The Final Reckoning is at hand, and we’ve reached the point I was curious about. Quaternity isn’t a collection of hymns this time (though the track “Lucifer”, with guest vocals by former Processian Anthony D’Andrea – who felt the original covers weren’t quite right,  is a Process hymn).  Rather, what we are presented with is an album exploring the themes found within the Process Church theology, via a number of original compositions.

This is not inherently a bad thing.  In fact, there is some stellar music here (“The Burning Cross of Christ” and “Lucifer” in particular). However, if anything, this feels like an album of a band trying to find its way out of a corner it painted itself into with its first two albums.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that corner – it’s an amazing corner to be in.  But when you have a finite amount of source material, you’re eventually going to have to come up with something new.

As such, one might compare this album to Einstürzende Neubauten’s album, Ende Neu, released in the midst of that band’s drastic line-up changes. There are good songs, but not always the “cohesion” present in other releases.  This is a band trying to find a direction to move forward in, while remaining true to its roots.

Lest it sound like I’m panning the album (I’m not), I guess I’m a little greedy in wanting more of the mystery of the Process Church, and the surprising joy I found in earlier Sabbath Assembly releases (“Glory to the Gods in the Highest”, and “Exit” come to mind). Quaternity also continues the trend started in Ye Are Gods of pulling the music forward to current times. If Restored to One had an incredible 60s “occult rock” vibe to it, the “60s” part of that is no longer as readily apparent (to me, anyway). The track “I, Satan” dives headlong into doom metal (again, nothing wrong with that), but the subject matter now feels distant from the Process Church, and more situated with in Sabbath Assembly.

A number of other reviewers have had issues with the final track, the 18:21 long “Four Horsemen.” – this is a meditation piece, for certain (not in the chanting/chime-y sort of way), a pastiche of Process Church doctrine and different styles of music – exquisite at times.

Do I like the album? Yes.  But for different reasons than the first two. I am mostly curious to see where the next album goes, as I suspect it will be more Sabbath Assembly, and less Process Church (or, perhaps, Sabbath Assembly as informed by the Process Church, rather than the Process Church as interpreted by Sabbath Assembly).  What this new direction will eventually look like (occult rock? doom metal? neo-folk? other?) remains to be heard.

If you’re curious about The Process Church of the Final Judgment, you might also take a gander at some of my other posts on the subject.

So be it.

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Nov 25 2013

New Process Church Book

Published by under Book Reviews,The Process

KevMitBuchAs it is,

The Process Church of the Final Judgment continues to slowly reveal itself.

Kali-Yuga Editions has published a 555 copy limited edition book by Alessandro Papa based on two large boxes of original archive material he received from an unnamed former member of the Church.

The Process: Archives, Documents, Reflections, and Revelations is an amazing resource, largely consisting of reproductions of internal documents, publications, photos, artwork, and assorted other goodies, straight from the source.

I’ve only just begun to peruse my copy and am already impressed. I’m not sure what the “official” way to order a copy is, but I got mine on eBay (presumably from Kali-Yuga?  The seller is in Italy -as are Kali Yuga- and everytime a copy sells, they re-list with a fresh copy).

210 pages of goodness.

I still maintain that the true story of the Process Church is even more fascinating than any of the myths and legends surrounding it.

Additional Recommended Reading:

Also check out the band Sabbath Assembly, who have released two albums (so far) of interpretations of Process Church hymns.

So be it.

 

One response so far

Sep 18 2013

Book Review – XTUL: An Experience of The Process

ProcesscrossWhen one travels in certain circles, one inevitably finds allusions to something called “The Process.”

At first, The Process is elusive; merely hinted at.  Or, at least, that’s how it was “back in the day.”

Finding The Process, then, becomes a hunt. Is it a Skinny Puppy album? Is it a book by Brion Gysin? What about Alfred North Whitehead’s Process and Reality?

Eventually, as one chips away at the mystery, The Process reveals itself a little further.  It becomes The Process Church of the Final Judgment.

Are any of these things related?

Yes, and No, actually.

The Skinny Puppy album was the result of Ogre being introduced to The Process Church of the Final Judgment by Genesis P-Orridge of Psychic TV / Throbbing Gristle fame. Gen was also familiar with Gysin’s book, and had made numerous references to it as well as the Church in many of his own creative endeavors. The Process Church also clearly influenced Gen’s own Temple ov Psychick Youth (TOPY).

The Process Church was also tied (dubiously) to Charles Manson in The Family by Ed Sanders (they later sued, and subsequent editions of The Family make no mention of them), and additionally to David Berkowitz by Maury Terry in The Ultimate Evil.

The ProcessWho were these people who made up The Process Church? Was it a Satanic “cult” responsible for all kinds of bloody mayhem? Was it still active? Who was this charismatic leader, Robert de Grimston? Did The Process do all of these things, or were they somehow caught up in the Satanic Panic of the 80s-90s? What about their vaguely swastika-like symbols? Why was nobody coming forward?

For a long time, the silence was deafening. Rumor and innuendo fueled speculation that maybe these really were people not to be messed with. Their original publications only added to the mystery. Jehovah? Christ? Lucifer? Satan?  Sex? Death?

It seemed that The Process was going to remain a mystery; something to be studied only by its artifacts and by extrapolations, guesses, rumors, and conjecture retrieved from an almost Strugatsky-like “Zone.”  The one book about them, Satan’s Power: A Deviant Psychotherapy Cult by William Sims Bainbridge (review forthcoming) was, and is, out of print, expensive, and difficult to come by.

Then, in 2009, the doors opened. And they opened wide.

4PFeral House published Love, Sex, Fear, Death: The Inside Story of The Process Church of the Final Judgment by former member, Timothy Wyllie (review also forthcoming). This book reaffirmed the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction. The reality behind The Process was far more fascinating than any of the rumors and legends that they had spawned. Shortly after Wyllie’s book, the band Sabbath Assembly released their first album, Restored to One, rock “interpretations” of Process Church hymns. It, and its follow-up, Ye Are Gods, have become two of my favorite albums. The songs are catchy, and the mythology of The Process Church is utterly captivating in the context of songs that sound somewhere between Coven and 60s Jesus Music. Feral House published a second volume onThe Process Church, Propaganda and Holy Writ of the Process Church of the Final Judgment, reprinting the (in)famous and long sought after issues of the church’s magazine, focusing on sex, fear, and death.

XTUL: An Experience of The Process by Sabrina Verney

XTUL: An Experience of The Process by Sabrina Verney

In 2011, another former member, Sabrina Verney, stepped forward to offer an account of her time with The Process in her memoir, XTUL: An Experience of The Process. Verney’s memoir is interesting in that she joined and left The Process just as it was making the transition from psychotherapy group to religion.

XTUL is an account of a young Sabrina rebelling against her stifling upper-class upbringing in England, and her quest for self-knowledge. She is first introduced to The Process by a boyfriend, and the two of them follow the group first to the Bahamas, and then to Mexico (“Xtul” – pronounced “shtool” is a small village on the Yucatan peninsula where they settled).

What makes Verney’s (and Wyllie’s) account fascinating is the portal it provides into the groups inner dynamics. Like any organization, there was a definite pecking order within The Process, with Mary Ann (not Robert!) de Grimston emerging as the true leader. At times, life in Xtul sounds idyllic – a return to nature, and simpler ways of being. Unfortunately, nature showed just how much of a force it was to be reckoned with, pummeling the community with a massive hurricane that should have, for all intents and purposes, killed at least a few of them. Yet, they all survived.  And this, became a defining moment for the group.

Shared experience of cataclysmic or near-cataclysmic events can often cause an intense bond to form between people. For a group that had already become extremely close through communal living and intense group psychotherapy exercises, it is not that far-fetched to see how a religious movement was the next logical step.

2272146022_625a41a8cdSabrina’s time with the group was cut suddenly short.  It is revealed that during her time with The Process, her father had been working with other parents to have their children taken from the group (Sabrina was 19 at the time, I believe). Sabrina and a few others were taken away shortly after the hurricane, and were only allowed minimal contact with Process members afterwards. From a legal standpoint, it only makes sense that the de Grimstons allowed for their departure. They had enough other things to deal with at this point.

As a fellow seeker, I understand Sabrina’s desire to belong to something bigger.  The questions she was asking of life are similar to the ones I’ve asked. Would I have joined The Process?  I can’t say, either way. There is an allure to their mythology and symbols. As I mentioned above, the hymns (as covered by Sabbath Assembly, anyway) are catchy, and some quite beautiful.

At the time, there wasn’t an extensive public knowledge about the dangers of “cults.” While The Process Church of the Final Judgment certainly had some of the usual problems that these groups tend to have, they seem to be far less sinister than their reputation would have you believe.

Eventually, Robert and Mary Ann de Grimston split, and the inevitable schism arose. Mary Ann took the group through a few variant stages, and finally morphed into the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

As for Sabrina?  She seems to have found herself.  She later returned to Xtul, long after The Process had left.  She seems to have found closure, and I am happy for her.

She also makes some amazing sculptures.

 MTM

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