So after taking it “easy” the past couple of times out, tackling new releases from familiar acts like Lamb of God and Fear Factory, I thought it would be good to step out of that comfort zone and review a band I’d never heard before. After having seen the name spoken well of in casual conversation, I ultimately decided to go with the new self-titled album from Sabbath Assembly.
Whether I decided to enter their world at the best possible time or the worst possible time is completely open to debate, and not even one I can engage in right away. From their official website:
“It marks a new beginning for the band. Like the albatross falling from the mariner’s neck, the band has freed itself…in order to explore its own creations – with no special guest appearances or narrative frills. Sabbath Assembly is, in fact, a decidedly metal offering, for in the writing, the band returned to its own personal roots in the dark age of the ’80s.”
So if you’re looking for someone to talk about the band’s evolution, or how this compares to past efforts, or anything like that…I am not that someone. I am a neophyte. But maybe you’ll appreciate the untainted perspective.
Sabbath Assembly is a rather unique listening experience. It is both a casual and immersive one. The sounds put forth are both urgent and calm; the messages at times an attempt to appease the gods and at others in blatant defiance of them. The constant is vocalist Jamie Myers. Whether whispering, singing, or screaming, those lovely pipes will have you rapt and hanging on every note.
As a whole, the occult sound brings to mind bands like The Oath, Castle, and to a lesser extent Purson, though it becomes clear early on that what Sabbath Assembly is creating here is much more dynamic; some might say apocalyptic, just to stay on point. Thundering drums open “Risen From Below” with some guitar to add to the growing wall of sound. When the bass kicks in, though, everything gets thrown asunder. It almost sounds like it’s trying to match both the riff AND the beat at the same time, and just takes over. “Confessing a Murder” is built around those same jarring bass lines, but is much more rhythmic and methodical. The train keeps rolling into “Burn Me, I Thirst For Fire” and one begins to wonder if they’re going to make it out of here alive.
“Only You” shows a bit of a directional shift. The softer moments are offset by more loud ones, which is fine. It is also here where more traditional metal elements begin to take hold – some Mercyful Fate, some Black Sabbath. “The Fiery Angel of Desire” adds some of the previous dissonance to the more tempered sound.
“Ave Satanas” finds the band going full King Diamond in direct praise of ol’ Scratch. Musically, everything seems to come together here, and result is one of the album’s strongest moments. The album’s final tracks lean more towards the softer side with longer acoustic parks and more tempered vocals, culminating in the perfectly mellow “Shadows of Emptiness.” It’s made a full 180 from the opener and remained solid throughout.
Sabbath Assembly is a fascinating record, from the music put forth to the lyrical content and the impact of the whole package. You can call me a convert, and perhaps the best thing I can say in that capacity is that I’m eager to go back and explore the band’s previous work, as much to follow their evolution as to learn more about their message. Things are about to get heavy. Or lighter. Or both. Not really sure. If you’re reading this, you probably already know, and I have a hunch you’re gonna let me find out on my own. I’m good with that.