Sabbath Assembly, formed in ‘09, are the modern response to a religious movement known as The Process Church of Final Judgement. The band have a unique sound, merging several different and contrasting styles of music together, from church organs to heavy guitars and choir vocals. Maria managed to have a quick chat with the band from her lemon pledge related duties.
Maria: How did Sabbath Assembly start? What inspired you to start this project?
Sabbath Assembly: I met Timothy Wyllie, an original member of the Process Church, at a book expo in NYC when he was promoting his book about the Church; Love Sex Fear Death. Looking through his book I was struck by the plates of sheet music of hymns of the Church. Timothy explained that the songs had never before been recorded because they were thought of as liturgical rather than popular. I offered that perhaps now was the time to bring this music to the world, and thus we both hatched a plan at that moment to share the hymns on a wider scale.
M: Do you think you had some sort of “divine inspiration”?
AS: I wouldn’t be so bold as to say that, but I often question what has come over me such that I feel such an uncompromising zeal to pursue this project so relentlessly. It doesn’t feel as if this is the story of my life, yet it is somehow slowly becoming so.
M: Who did you hope to reach with your music? How has this been received by listeners? Have you gotten any feedback?
AS: I think the question is, “who does the music hope to reach?” and I am not sure that answer. As of now there don’t seem to be many boundaries in place. So far we have felt overwhelmingly positive feedback from the metal scene, even though the music is not exactly metal. Metalheads are not afraid of the dark forces, so we feel this is the reason for the kinship. Our impression is that the message is coming into the world at the correct time.
M: What is “THE PROCESS CHURCH OF THE FINAL JUDGMENT”? Is it only a congregation or is it an organized church of its own?
AS: The Process Church of the Final Judgment was an organised church that began in the late 60s and survived into the 80s, passing through various forms. It began as a post-Scientology group therapy and commune experiment that led to contact with the spirit world and a resulting theology that paired psychotherapeutic work with religious tenants that encouraged individuation, wholeness, and self-acceptance.
M: The lyrical the theme of your music is centralised on spiritual things, is this related to the faith you profess?
AS: Yes, the lyrics invoke the four deities Christ, Jehovah, Lucifer and Satan as aspects of ourselves that we are not to suppress but celebrate. So our “faith” is affirming our complex and rich psychological tapestry.
M: Would you say you are trying to “evangelise” your listeners? Is it part of your goals as musicians to convert someone to a religion?
AS: Not exactly – our first draw to the music is that the words were meaningful for us personally, and then we discovered that the melodies are also quite beautiful, so why not share? It is not an intention to convert, only for us as band members to perform music we can honestly believe in. If this happens to be infectious on any level, we are of course pleased.
M: The album is musically varied and has many different sounds in it. How would you describe your music genre wise?
M: You recently released a music video for “In the Time of Abaddon II”, that features various images that I assume are related to your cult or church. Do you have a specific message to be communicated by this imagery?
AS: Yes, the beginning montage contains some imagery related to the history of the Process Church, as well as issues of their concern, such as death and the problem of evil. In the video this imagery is joined with the recitation of ritual text that prophesies the coming Apocalypse, which we feel is a relevant message for our time. The Apocalypse can mean the end of the world; it can also mean transformation from one phase of existence to the next; it can also be understood on a personal level as our relationships, accomplishments, and ambitions come to fruition and pass away.
M: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
AS: “For every end there is a new beginning, and if we are not of the End, then we shall be of the New Beginning. Either we shall be the ashes of the Phoenix, or his resurrection from the ashes. And if we care about the death of the Phoenix, then we shall be his ashes, but if we are detached and see the cycle of which his death is but a part, then we shall be his resurrection.”
-The Process Church of the Final Judgment, As It Is, 1968