Apr 01 2014

Sabbath Assembly – Quaternity

Published by at 11:11 pm under Musick,Sabbath Assembly,The Process

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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