Wednesday, June 30, 2010

SABBATH ASSEMBLY "RESTORED TO ONE" (The Ajna Offensive/Feral House Publishing)

An astoundingly amazing throwback of forgotten musical history performed by Jex Thoth and members of the No Neck Blues Band, Sabbath Assembly is a project devoted to performing the songs of the Process Church of the Final Judgment, a unique and notorious late '70's religious cult loosely associated with both Charles Manson and the Son of Sam. The actuality is much more involved and far-reaching and for anyone interested in the more out-there aspects of counter culture and hive mentality i would heartily recommend Timothy Wyllie's book detailing his experience with The Process ("Love Sex Fear Death") and to a lesser degree Maury Terry's excellent conspiracy nightmare focusing on the Son of Sam murders ("The Ultimate Evil.") Both are very detailed, informative and creepy; they also provide an excellent background to the music found on "Restored to One."
Not that you need any information on the Process to enjoy this album. You don't, because it's a gorgeous piece of atmospheric psychedelia with a heavy tinge of fervor and ecstasy, easily discernible from the frenzied performances, frequent allusions to both God and Satan and an overall focus on minor key abstractionism. These are some truly haunting songs, specifically crafted for ritual and worship, the sort of worship that only occurs in damp night-stained temples of occultic persuasion. This was music to be performed at gatherings, at Witches' Sabbath, at Black Mass as well as Communion. It's universal and completely removed from anything you've heard at once. There is both a familiarity and a disconnect, a known and an unknown, and those two vibes create a super uneasy but incredibly engaging listening experience. I can't help but think of sacrifices and magic, and even though i know these things did not happen in the annals of the Process's existence it doesn't make it any less believable that it did. This is weird, eerie shit born from a fucked up mindset bent on control and devotion.
Thoth and band pull it off beautifully. Her vocals have the smoldering, smoky and broken quality necessary to nestle inside of you and the backing group plays everything with a single minded passion and a recalcitrant intensity. When the guitar solo in "Judge of Mankind" builds up into a maelstrom of string-bending neck skronk you can't help but break out into gooseflesh or feel a slight chill washing over your space. "Hymn of Consecration" makes you want to light a few candles and bow your head while "Glory to the Gods in the Highest" simply wants to obliterate you a bit and get your consciousness dripping and nodding to the throb. There is a pulse here, easily felt and not so easily ignored. Perhaps that's why the Process is so misunderstood; maybe the real power was unnerving to so many because it had such a magnetic quality. Freedom from judgement and total acceptance are powerful, powerful promises with an almost otherwordly allure for many people. Sabbath Assembly recognize that power and push it forth, transforming the source material once more into a sort of hedge enchantment that will no doubt steer many towards an exploration of it's own bizarre and dramatic history. A smashing success in every way, heavily recommended for anyone into late '70's Father Yod themed psychedelic exploration.

No comments: