Sabbath Assembly: Rites of Passage Review

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Sabbath Assembly: <i>Rites of Passage</i> Review

It’s always fun to speculate about bands with witchy and ritualistic leanings in their music. Do the band members actually subscribe to the darker philosophies or pagan musings they put on blast, or is it all just for fun and shock? Music is a powerful platform for expression of one’s beliefs, but it’s also a grand form of entertainment. Even in interviews artists can’t be trusted to reveal whether or not the dogma they tout on their records is how they actually live. It essentially boils down to the vibe of their music and if it’s believable.

By way of New York and Texas, comes Sabbath Assembly and their sixth studio album Rites Of Passage. While the seven haunting tracks don’t seem to adhere to any particular philosophical path, the general feel of the album, and the group’s original goal to record the music of the Process Church of the Final Judgement, a cult that may have inspired Charles Manson, leaves one wondering where the band might hang their spiritual hats.

The opening track “Shadows Revenge” is a straight, heavy, rocking doom song. It has a somewhat traditional song structure, with non-traditional harmonies. Sabbath Assembly deals extensively in dissonance and melodies that don’t fly in one ear and out the other very easily. A majority of the riffs and dual harmonies perpetrated by guitarists Kevin Hufnagel and Ron Varod have to be chewed on a bit before they are truly understood. “Seven Sermons To The Dead” is almost disorienting in regards to its faux discordance.

Then there are tracks like “The Bride Of Darkness” and “Angels Trumpets” that seem like they’re the band’s collective, recorded stream of consciousness. Both tracks feel like you’re listening to a flowing interpretive dance. The creative and unpredictable vocal patterns of Jamie Myers help to establish said perception. Sabbath Assembly also deals in psychedelic flutter and trance-like melancholy with tracks like “The Bride Of Darkness” and “I Must Be Gone,” but switch to air guitar inducing riffs in the next breath.

Rites Of Passage gives you that creepy sensation when all your senses swell as you walk down an unfamiliar, dark alley, but it also hypnotizes like a string of swirling smoke rising off a black ceremonial candle.