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Sabbath Assembly – A Letter of Red

Sabbath Assembly
A Letter of Red
by Dave Nowels at 15 May 2019, 4:02 PM

SABBATH ASSEMBLY returns via Svart Records with “A Letter Of Red” their seventh album and sees the band reuniting with Randall Dunn producing. Dunn last manned the helm for SABBATH ASSEMBLY on their debut, “Restored To One” Additionally, this release sees the band return to shorter more direct song form, while still maintaining the sprawling all-inclusive song journeys that the band is know for. Trust me, despite the longest song ( "A Welcome Below" ) coming in just shy of the 8 minute mark, the band still manages to cover significant ground here.

The album begins with the rush of “Solve et Coagula” and this track gives you a somewhat deceptive taste of what the album is. No intro here, just straight into a chugging riff, some interesting keyboard work from Driver and a pretty unassuming vocal from Myers. The latter, it should be noted is uncharacteristic of the remainder of the album also. There's an interesting breakdown smack dab in the middle that precedes a fairly standard guitar solo. Things pick up immediately with “The Serpent Uncoils”, somewhat unexpectedly with a galloping HEART styled riff that defines and grounds the song throughout. Even so, Myers' vocals really begin to unleash here, and it's quite welcomed. “Worthless” continues this formula, with Myers' vocals layered for exponential effect. The band utilizes another breakdown that moves into almost a song within a song for the back half. Really interesting, and psych-like.

“Weighing of the Heart” has an almost ballad quality to it, slow, yet purposeful. It along with “The Serpent Uncoils” were early favorites. “Ascend & Descend” was the track that really called to mind the influence I was hearing but couldn't  exactly place. BAUHAUS, and more specifically PETER MURPHY are the ghosts that haunt here, and it's simply fabulous. Varvod & Hufnagel's guitars weave in and about while Myers' ever eerie vocal rolls in and out like a fog. “Hymn of the Pearl” really showcases the rhythms of Nuss & DeBlase and there is some incredible keyboard work happening courtesy of Driver. Again, great lead and riff guitar work countering one another and the vocals use a similar approach, with spoken and sung portions snaking in and out. Musically, this was my favorite track ads it really captures the whole band contributions the most effectively.

Closing things out are “From the Beginning” and the deeply personal final track, ”A Welcome Below” which tackles a family member's descent into opiate addiction and their subsequent journey back. All things considered, “A Letter of Red” is a quite interesting adventure. Part Occult, part Gothic and based in 70's Prog/Rock it's a fun listen and definitely worthy of a listen.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Solve et Coagula
2. The Serpent Uncoils
3. Worthless
4. Weighing of the Heart
5. Ascend and Descend
6. Hymn of the Pearl
7. From The Beginning
8. A Welcome Below
Jamie Myers – Vocals
Ron Varod – Guitars
Kevin Hufnagel – Guitar
David Nuss – Drums
Johnny DeBlase - Bass
Toby Driver - Keyboards
Record Label: Svart Records


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Edited 04 June 2020

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