Sabbath Assembly // Ye Are Gods
Rating: 3.0/5.0 — And you thought Scientology was scary…
Label: Svart Records/The Ajna Offensive Records
Websites: myspace.com | facebook.com
Release Dates: Out worldwide 09.21.2012
Once is an occurrence, twice is coincidence, but three times is a trend. Well, Steel Druhm is onto a trend and that trend is trippy, hippie-styled, quasi-metal. In a month that saw oddball albums from Hexvessel and Seromonia, we’re now treated to the extra bizarro Beatles-meets-Meatloaf-meets-gospel-meets-Godspell stew of Sabbath Assembly. Led by Jamie Myers of Hammers of Misfortune and Wolves in the Throne Room, Ye Are Gods is an in-depth examination of the Process Church of the Final Judgment; a little known 60s apocalyptic religious movement that operated as a shadowy sideshow to the flower power progressiveness of the hippie subculture. Ye Are Gods lovingly takes the actual ritual text and liturgy from this obscure faith which believed in a final, universe-ending unification of Christ and Satan and melds it into an unsettling, unusual aural experience. It’s almost totally devoid of traditional earmarks of metal, aside from references to Satan and the rare, angrily phrased riff. Perhaps it doesn’t even warrant review space at Angry Metal Guy. However, it does mix the beauty of lilting hymnal music with a persistently malevolent vibe and the end result is both doomy and disturbing (and that’s metal!). It’s certainly a unique and engaging listening experience, unlike any other.
Though I feel completely unqualified to review religious ceremonies (except witch burnings), here we go anyway. Things opens with ghostly choral vocals by Myers before shifting into a sermon by Genesis P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle). Believe me when I say, you’ll be unable to shake the feeling you wandered into the wrong church on the wrong day and should start backing down the aisle briskly.
Momentarily ending the creep-fest, the first real song, “The Love of The Gods” is rooted in both hymnal music and 60’s hippie folk. It’s undeniably beautiful and soothing and Myers sounds lovely. It’s as catchy as herpes but much nicer to deal with (even the odd interjections from high priest P-Orridge don’t undermine the tranquility of the piece). “We Come From the One” is much darker and more ominous as Myers uses her soft, sweet tones to invoke Satan, Hell and the fiery reckoning that awaits mankind. It’s still stuck in that 60’s folk template, yet manages to feel fairly threatening (quite a feat musically speaking).
The rest of Ye Are Gods contains similar paeans to Satan’s rising and global destruction; all sweetly delivered, but unnerving in their conviction and message. “Bless Our Lord and Master” eventually swells into a metal(ish) zenith as they hail Satan and Christ, but most of the song is saccharine-sweet hippie cult music. “We Give Our Lives” reminds me a lot of “Old Souls” from the underground 70’s horror musical Phantom of Paradise, in both Myers’s delivery and the song structure. Its touching and emotional, but as usual, the lyrics are loony. Downbeat, end-of-the-world subject matter teamed with joyous music makes “Exit” both confounding and engaging, and the funky solo at 3:24 is amusingly upbeat, as are the claps and feel-good positivity (up with people!). Few songs will ever convey the image of a brainwashed, dead-eyed cult more vividly.
While none of the songs are bad, things do become less impactful as one gets accustomed to the weirdness. This makes the back-end of the album feel more tame and unexciting as the novelty wanes. Simultaneously, this is an album designed to be heard in its entirety. It takes a sustained, attentive listen to properly ingest the “Hotel California” vibe and atmosphere. That becomes a bit of a curse as Ye Are Gods plays out.
Also an issue are the spoken word “sermons” by P-Orridge. Though I’m sure he was deadly serious about this project (since he’s a follower of gnostic-based faiths), his delivery is a bit overdone and repeatedly reminded me of the goofy voiceovers on Meatloaf‘s Bat Out of Hell (i.e. “On a hot summer’s night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?”). Additionally, this isn’t an album I can imagine spinning much, especially with company over. Unless you and your crew belong to the Process Church, this will result in odd looks and a few calls to Homeland Security.
I can’t take anything away from Myers and her singing. I loved her on the Hammers of Misfortune material and I love her here. She never oversings and never tries to dominate the music. On song after song, her sweet voice channels joy, devotion and love, even when praising Satan and warning of the Great Doom. Guitarist Imaad Wasif does a nice job and has some haunting leads and solos that flow well alongside Myers. The occasional viola segments are also well done, but this is really all about the vocals.
Ye Are Gods is an odd duck of a different color. The only comparable release I’m aware of is the old recording of the Satanic Black Mass by Anton LaVey and even that’s not really on point. I enjoyed this album, but it’s such a novelty, I can’t see coming back to it much unless I’m dating a really freaky chick who requires “special” mood music. Approach with caution, since this is very unheavy stuff, though it may appeal to the weird and the mystical among us. If you do check it out, put the number for the nearest cult deprogrammer on speed-dial first.