With their self-titled third album Sabbath Assembly have reinvented themselves as a rock band after two albums of singing hymns to the Final Judgment. David Christian tells his tale of rebirth and abortion.
The album is simply called ‘Sabbath Assembly’ now. Should we look on at as a new start for you or why this choice of title?
Yeah it’s a new beginning. This is OUR time. We’ve let go of the Process myth/fantasy. We see this as our first album.
The album is also closer now to the way you sound live on stage like a real rock band? Is that because you’re mostly concentrated on your own compositions now or is it the other way around?
Most of us in the band are old enough to remember a time before pro-tools, when music was just about documenting your sound in the rehearsal room. So we went to producer Colin Marston with this idea – let’s track it all together, only overdubbing leads and vox, with no click tracks or triggers or any of that bullshit, and knock out each song within three takes. And that is what we did. It was very fast and immediate. The feelings in these songs are so raw and vulnerable we didn’t want to confuse that with some over-worked, over-thought production.
In the past the lyrics were taken straight from Hymns by the Process Church of the Final Judgment”. For this record you’ve mostly chosen own lyrics. Did you feel there wasn’t much left to say on those hymns?
That’s right. The Process hymns come in two categories, lyrically: one is theological praise, so the hymn would glorify the Process pantheon of deities; and two, some kind of song of hope about being reborn in a new way. For this album we really wanted to go more atheist, or let’s say ‘non-theistic’ satanic because that represents more where we are personally, and we certainly didn’t want any songs of hope because what is there to hope for? Nothing but SHIT.
It still sounds very apocalyptical. What are you aiming to express with Sabbath Assembly in this new incarnation?
We simply want to share on our feelings and perspective on the world, and for us mostly this tends to be oriented around death and endings. Some songs are straight up ‘dark ritual’, such as “Risen from Below” and “Ave Satanas”; some are more political commentary, for example “Confessing a Murder” and “Apparition of the Revolution”; and some address the complexities of intimate human relationships, for instance “Burn Me,” “Sharp Edge of the Earth,” and “Only You.” The apocalyptic nature of the songs arises because we are always writing about the ENDINGS of these themes, for example the ending of relationships, the (imagined) ending of political systems, and the moment of sacrifice in dark ritual.
Do you come up with the lyrics first and then weave the song around it or does the song come first now?
For this album there were usually lyrics first that then needed to be shaped later around Kevin’s guitar work. We can say that the basis of all these songs is always a vocal melody, rather than a riff – except for “Burn Me” which was all about the verse riff – and I think this lends a unique tone to this album, a tone of beauty. But around that beauty is built the darkness.
I also like the cover very much. It’s again full of symbolism. The snake reminds me of the Garden of Eden. Is that the connotation you were looking for or what does it represent for you?
The cover artwork is a combination of two symbols. The first is an egg with two nails hammered through it in a crucifix shape. This is a witchcraft technique of inducing an abortion, and we use this symbol to abort our relationship with the Process Church. The second symbol is the “cosmic egg”, which is a snake wrapping and ascending an egg, a classic symbol of rebirth and the approach towards the Mysteries; this one represents the direction of the band.
Any chance you’ll be playing in Belgium anytime again soon?
Yes! Our European agency is working on booking a tour in the Spring of 2016 right now!
See you on tour! And order the record at sabbathassembly.com!