When percussionist David Christian and vocalist Jex Thoth formed Sabbath Assembly in 2009, the project had an explicit mission – to re-arrange and record hymns written by and for the Process Church of the Final Judgment, a mid ’60s cult whose theology revolved around the unity of Jesus, Lucifer and Satan. (Read more about Sabbath Assembly, and the role of the occult in rock, at Sound American.) Their debut album, Restored to One, offered nine songs in a unique style that blended soul, country, gospel and psychedelic rock. The follow-up, 2012’s Ye Are Gods, went one step further and was a full-on re-creation of a Process mass, sermon and all. (Between the two albums, Thoth left the group; her replacement, Jamie Myers, has also worked with Wolves in the Throne Room and Hammers of Misfortune. Several other members also came on board, most notably guitarist Kevin Hufnagel of Dysrhythmia and Gorguts.) The third album, 2014’s Quaternity, marked another shift for the band, as the music became more acoustic and orchestral. And their latest release, a self-titled album, is out on Friday (pre-order it on Amazon); this time, they’re declaring their independence in a way, abandoning the Process Church in favor of writing entirely original material that continues to explore their interest in mystical theology.
Christian says of the new material, “When we started the writing for this record, I was reading through hundreds of pages of Process texts, hunting for inspiration. All the writing seemed so stiff and jilted. Then I came across a letter that founder [Robert] DeGrimston had written after having been excommunicated from the Church addressing the remaining congregation. It was so tragic, so moving – so much more heartfelt than his theological treatises. There was no talk of judgment or revenge in the letter, only bewilderment and heartache – but also forgiveness. My heart cracked open; I called Jamie and the band to discuss this new inspiration, and out came all these songs of heartbreak – our own songs, connecting us to all those who have ever experienced the pain of loss and the suffering of grief.” The music is much heavier and more aggressive than anything the group has ever recorded before; it has the visceral impact of metal and classic hard rock.
The band has made a video for “Apparition of the Revolution,” which we’re premiering today. They say, “The promise of cults is superficial. Personal grandeur, spiritual elevation, heavenly reward: it all turns out smoke and mirrors in the end. The promised ‘revolution’ never comes; yet when in the throes of the cult the apparition of it looms large, ghostly, immanent. This song and video is about the recognition of the ghost, seeing the apparition in all its mist. It’s about the crumbling and burning of the symbols of the cult, and the powdery dust which they become. Goodbye, Process Church of the Final Judgment. As it is, so be it.”
Watch the video for “Apparition of the Revolution”: