Considering their underlying ethos was always one of transformation, Sabbath Assembly’s steady evolution over the last few years makes sense. Increasingly eschewing the sterile serenity of their first two records, drummer Dave Nuss’s crew have grown in stature and confidence since singer Jamie Myers joined the ranks, and Rites Of Passage is further evidence that a sharper collective identity has led to more distinctive music. As with 2015’s self-titled album, these songs make no bones about their metal roots, but where many other supposedly occult rock bands rely on the comfort of cliché, Sabbath Assembly are frequently swimming in untouched territory. To some degree, the idiosyncratic fervour of Myers’ former band, Hammers Of Misfortune, are a decent reference point; gritty NWOBHM riffs and a prog-fuelled sense of mischief provide sonic bedrock for opener Shadows Revenge and the fatalistic sprawl of I Must Be Gone. Meanwhile, Twilight Of God and Seven Sermons To The Dead verge on gothic psychedelia, replete with dissonant, Piggystyle riffs and plenty of Jesus and Satan action to keep holy tongues wagging.
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