Jex Thoth

Review: Sabbath Assembly – Eno Ot Derotser Ltd edition cassette tape

Sabbath Assembly Eno Ot Derotser

Photo © 2014 Svart Records

I stumbled upon this limited edition cassette while looking at vinyl on the Svart Records website – I was there to order a copy of their Witch Mountain – South of Salem LP reissue, which I will post a review of soon.

I don’t normally go for cassettes, but when I saw the link to this recording, I knew I had to have it. Limited to only 300 copies, this cassette features the original Sabbath Assembly recordings from 2009, with Jex Thoth on vocals. I can imagine this selling quite well and becoming hard to find in no time at all. With this in mind, I made a digital copy of mine the day I got it so my original will stay in pretty much mint condition.

The songs are all Process Church hymns, later versions of which appeared on the band’s debut album Restored to One. Here, they are presented in a raw, experimental form, with sparse bongo percussion (by the band’s founder Dave Nuss, credited here as Xtian) as opposed to the full drum kit used on the bands full albums and live shows. The arrangements are a little different, too, showing some of the early psychedelic influences and ideas that were later molded into the form long time fans will know.

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Review: Sabbath Assembly – Quaternity

Sabbath Assembly-Quaternity-cover

“Humanity is doomed.”

Quaternity is the third album from Sabbath Assembly, a bizarre rock band that formed to recreate the hymns of apocalyptic 1960’s religious cult The Process Church of The Final Judgement. Their first record (Restored to One) caught my attention because their original singer was Jex Thoth, which was enough of an endorsement to at least check them out, even if they did sing about God and seemed more than a bit ‘churchy’. Spend a little time with this band, though, and you will soon discover that there is nothing traditionally Christian about their music or philosophy.

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Jex-Thoth-Blood-Moon-Rise

Album: Jex Thoth – Blood Moon Rise

I have been a fan of Jex Thoth since their self-titled 2008 debut. The first offering was a mixture of low-fi fuzz guitar and psyche jamming, but represented a major leap forward in songwriting and performance from their debut EP, Totem, and second full-length is no different. I have read criticism that the first album suffered from poor musicianship, but I never thought that. This one does sound a lot glossier on first listen, though.The most striking change to the band has to be the complete line-up change they have undergone since those first two releases. Two of the original line-up were married (singer ‘Jex’ and bass/guitarist ‘Grim Jim,’ also of Wooden Wand) and are now separated, which I presume accounts for his departure. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter, as the music is as good, if not better than before.

jex band

Blood Moon Rise is a very dark record, and not the type of album that grabs you on first listen. The first time I played it, I was surprised by how smooth everything sounds compared to their earlier efforts. It’s the only word I can use to adequately describe the sound. After a short, moody opening piece, the album starts proper with single ‘The Places You Walk.’ Jex Thoth songs have been described as ‘doom ballads’ in several reviews, and that is definitely the case here. The lyrical subject matters switch between relationships/love back to esoteric occult themes such as the epic closing number ‘Psyar’ (I have no idea what this means without Googling!). So, am I saying that Jex’s lyrics are stereotypically feminine in their themes? Well, yes, I am in a way, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Jex clearly knows what she is singing about, and her voice sounds beautiful and is one of the aspects of the band that benefits most from this album’s superior production. It’s been well mastered, too and sounds clear and warm. These two things are important for a Jex Thoth record for one simple reason: You need to listen to this band on vinyl. I have both the CD and LP versions of their first record and there is no comparison. The vinyl wins every time (if only for the Albert Witchfinder sleeve art).

While I loathe the term ‘female-fronted doom band’ for so many reasons, I will briefly use the term here. While I do hate the term, Jex Thoth stand alongside Witch Mountain as an example of that at its best. Also, listen out for Earth cellist Lori Goldston on the last track.
Edit:
Since writing this review, I have bought a vinyl copy of the album. Like Jex’s previous work, it sounds twice as good on my turntable as the digital version I reviewed here. If you can afford it, get the LP. It’s worth the extra cash.
Out now on I Hate Records
Copyright © Steve Wilson and The Third Realm, 2014