Rites of Passage is the sixth album from Occult Rockers Sabbath Assembly and although it’s stated as an album about transitions is more definitive of their overall experience. Featuring ex-Hammers of Misfortunes’ Jamie Myers, Kevin Hufnagel also of Gorguts and Dysrhythmia and newest addition Ron Varod also of Kayo Dot, Psalm Zero and Zvi the line-up of Sabbath Assembly which also sees Dave Nuss and Johnny Deblase reprise their roles within the group is not so much a pool of talent as an ocean.
Starting with an abstract readiness the dissonant riffs continue to be anything but pretty. Although that’s not to say that they’re not catchy. As their syncopated adhesion will get your foot tapping, your head nodding and your horns throwing. With great attention to detail these layers of rock music express a sense of optimism born from tragedy and sympathy wrought in the groups cohesion as parts of a greater force.
What melodies surface on the tracks are only part of the grand ensemble on Rites of Passage as beneath the roaring licks and adroit cadence lie the foundations to allow the guitar to move as if in a trance. Where the bass lines communicate what’s below the facade and where their shadow is mercilessly bounced on by the driving force expressed by the singing guitar licks.
As stated previously Rites of Passage isn’t a pretty album that will assuage any malcontent. Instead it offers condolences with poetic virtue. However that’s not to say it’s not beautiful in its own discordant way, like a cool evening wind against a backdrop of a red sky, as this album holds an aggressive charm with a calm and collected sway that soothes and excites on its own terms.