Lingua Ignota’s music has always come with a certain duality as her first three albums cycled through the harshest Industrial textures and the most arresting Neoclassical Darkwave. However, that duality has seemingly been phased out with the release of her fourth full-length, Sinner Get Ready (Sargent House). The walls of noise are considerably subdued in comparison to past outings and the vocals are devoid of screams and distortion, leaving the songs to be primarily driven by sparse piano and organs with layers of melismatic cleans.
Dedicated to bringing to life the music of The Process Church of the Final Judgement, an obscure 70s religious movement that preached the necessity of worshipping evil as well as good to obtain spiritual balance, Sabbath Assembly is the vision of drummer Dave “Xtian” Nuss and vocalist Jamie Myers. Performing original Process Church hymns as well as their own interpretations, the duo have faced accusations of being a novelty act that is the only logical conclusion of the current occult rock trend but they don’t appear to care one jot, as third release Quaternity (Svart Records) proudly declares.
The first thing that becomes apparent is that Myers has one of the most captivating and ethereal voices this side of Diamanda Galas as her otherworldly and sensual tones bathe you in golden light on opening track ‘Let Us Who Mystically Represent…’ which sets the scene nicely, aided by some haunting organ notes. The eerie acoustic folk of ‘Jehovah on Death’ features some captivating dual male/female vocals along with refined and dreamlike cello and strings and if you close your eyes, you’re right there in the congregation feeling the love of the Church wash over you in all its transcendental glory. Well not quite, but it’s a strong effort.
‘The Burning Cross of Christ’ is easily the finest song on Quaternity, a powerful and evocative folk number that allows Myers to sing passionately and without restriction. However it’s quite a light number and it’s not until the treble-heavy tones of ‘I, Satan’ that the darker side of Sabbath Assembly is revealed and the teachings of the band take on a more tangible meaning. Unfortunately the goodwill generated is then tarnished by the eighteen minute long pretension fest that is ‘The Four Horseman’ which simply feels like a long and tedious afternoon in church rather than anything spiritually uplifting.
Not metal in the slightest, but truly a genuine piece of outsider music, Quaternity is an intriguing example of something that shouldn’t work at all, but somehow does. Whether they have God or the Devil to thank for that remains unexplained.