In the mood for something really different? Sabbath Assembly certainly qualifies. As explained in my review of their Ye Are Gods opus, this is a bizarre project based on the teachings of the mega-obscure Process Church of the Final Judgment; a strange apocalyptic hippie cult from the 60s that believed in a union of Christ and Satan that triggers armageddon. Led by Jamie Myers (Hammers of Misfortune, Wolves in the Throne Room) and Dave “Xtian” Nuss (ex-Angkor Wat), they craft an unusual hybrid of 60s hippie folk rock and religious hymnal music.
Like Ye Are Gods, Quaternity is often beautiful and tranquil, then abruptly veers into bone chilling territory as darkness and Lucifer are invoked in ritualistic, liturgical ways replete with church organs, unnerving sermons and creepy scripture readings. As with all their material, this has limited appeal and it’s not really metal except for a heavy moment or two. Still, it is unique and fascinating, though slightly less focused and listenable than its predecessor at times.
After a short, attention grabbing intro, “Jehovah on Death” starts the Mass off with panache. Jamie is joined by Daron Beck (Pinkish Black) and their dreamy duets are backed by acoustic guitar and various string instruments, with the style alternating between peaceful folk music and more threatening, ominous tones. This concept is expanded upon during the lengthy “The Burning Cross,” which is the standout cut here. As soft acoustic work entwines with sad cello and violin melodies, Jamie’s vocals are soothing and enchanting, then eerie and unsettling. The song could be the soundtrack for your crazy ex-girlfriend as she sits in a corner, slowly flicking the lights on and off and plotting your demise. Creepy stuff, but very well done and enthralling in much the same way Hexvessel‘s music is.
“I, Satan” is the only real metal song here, dropping in heavy doom riffs and death croaks alongside a darker, more sinister performance from Jamie. Her high priestess/crazy bag lady vocals are particularly interesting and effective here, and though the song itself isn’t quite as captivating as the earlier ones, it supplies a legitimately macabre vibe. “Lucifer” is a bit oddball, even for these nutters, with gentle, calming male vocals and soft synth work, it sounds a whole lot like David Sylvian‘s “Darkest Dreaming,” but with more mentions of Satan and doom for mankind.
The closer is the 18 minute-plus marathon “The Four Horsemen,” and it’s here that things go a bit awry. While all the typical Sabbath Assembly elements swirl and coalesce, draping the song’s lengthy run in dark moods and atmospheres, it doesn’t consistently hold my attention as it jumps around trying to do too much. There are segments of great power and beauty that keep me locked in tight, while others feel like background music for a really fucked up dinner party and my attention waxes and wanes accordingly. It’s loaded with spoken word pieces and scripture readings by members of Hexvessel, but after a while, these become white noise distracting from the music and as with their last album, some of it gets too close to the cheesy opening of Meatloaf‘s “You Took the Words Right Out of Mouth.”
An interesting listen and aural freakshow, Quaternity has some fascinating and stirring moments, but sometimes overdoes the church shtick to the point where it takes away from the music. I don’t often find myself in the mood for Satanic folk rock, no matter how well done it may be, but if you love Hexvessel, Jex Thoth or occult rock generally, this is certainly worth a listen. All others, leave the hall…and run like Hell!