SABBATH ASSEMBLY "A Letter Of Red" [12" LP, Black Vinyl]
2019 - Psychedelic Rock from United States
A Letter of Red is the seventh album from Sabbath Assembly. The album, produced by Randall Dunn who last worked with the band on their debut Restored to One, marks a return to the shortened song form and tight production of their debut, while demonstrating ten years of songwriting prowess and lyrical advancement. The music on A Letter of Red owes more to the galloping hard rock of the 70's than the progressive meanderings of Rites of Passage. Dunn explains: "I tried to find the teenage occult heart of each of the musicians and center them in a place of unity around a familiar and yet futuristic sound. I imagined us all in the cosmos with 70's hi fi headphones on riding a great winged beast airbrushed on the side of a chevy van." Guitarists Kevin Hufnagel (Gorguts, Dysrhythmia) and Ron Varod (Kayo Dot, Myrkur) reference Heart and Judas Priest on the album's hard rockers, while acoustic moments bring to mind Current 93 and Jethro Tull. Vocalist Jamie Myers (ex-Hammers of Misfortune and Wolves in the Throne Room) performs with the stripped down clarity of Peter Murphy and Siouxsie in the 80's, bringing a true Gothic tinge to the metal riffs for a totally unique combination. A Letter of Red takes on lofty lyrical themes juxtaposed with this more specific musical direction. The track "Hymn of the Pearl" elucidates the album's title in its recounting of a lost traveler who finds his way home upon receipt of "the letter of red" sent by his familial tribe. The letter reminds the traveler of his true self, and is metaphorical for the gnostic path of individuation. The song is based on a 2nd century Syrian text of the same name discovered with other New Testament apocryphal writings forbidden from the Biblical canon. The Apostle Thomas is thought to have sung this hymn to his fellow prisoners while in Roman captivity, with "the letter of red" offering true release. The album continues with these themes of imprisonment and freedom in the songs "Solve et Coagula," which contemplates the plight of imprisoned Yazidi women after ISIS' 2014 siege on Mt. Sinjar, and "Worthless" which recounts the prison of adolescence, the isolation of defining one's identity as a teen. The emphasis in Sabbath Assembly's telling of these events is on their injustice, but also on the question of community, asking, "What binds people in captivity together?" One answer is a common mythology, such as the Yazidi creation story in "Solve," and another is family, in particular sisterhood. "From the Beginning," "The Serpent Uncoils," and "Ascend and Descend" are inspired by the relationship between sisters Nephthys and Isis of Egyptian lore. These stories tell of a relationship at once biting but ever unshakable as these deities embark on tales of both bravery and deceit. "A Welcome Below" metaphorically addresses the prison of addiction, a reflection on drummer Dave Nuss' daughter's struggles with opiates. Sabbath Assembly is honored to present their seventh chapter, A Letter of Red, on April 18, and look forward to seeing you on the road in Europe in May. A final word from Dunn: "When we set out to make a Sabbath Assembly record, we set out to make magic spells and embrace a plural existence. Make no mistake - the sisters will be heard, and secularism will be brought to its knees once again by the old gods disguised as a rock band."