Having been following these occult, mystical doomsayers since they appeared as Totem with their self-named EP in 2007 I grabbed claim on this album the second it arrived. Things have been pretty quiet with them since the release of last album Jex Thoth (yes not very imaginative with the titles at first) way back in 2008 but for a couple of EP’s we have been somewhat starved. Of course the observant may have witnessed the dawning of Sabbath Assembly and their debut album ‘Restored To One’ in 2010 which had Jex vocalising on but I think it is more than fair to say that this highly anticipated album has been a long time coming.
One reason for the delay could well be the old band line up shuffles, as since that first album it looks like Jex is the only survivor and indeed there has been a veritable opening and closing of doors before we get to the quintet that form the band today. Drummer Nick Johnson obviously likes working with strong front women as I see he also plays with Zola Jesus and the two recent guitarists have a string of bands between them past and present and I am sure Matt Jacobs is more than happy to be with something a bit more serious sounding than previous bands Deep Shit and Anal Beard.
Between them they have crafted a really beguiling and it has to be said incredibly mellow affair with Blood Moon Rise, you might well have guessed this would be the case and the magickal musical alchemy of these nine songs leaves you in no doubt as they pick you up and caress in their warm comforting grasp. ‘To Bury’ starts it off (I don’t think they are planning a day trip to Greater Manchester either) and I am reminded of latter era Siouxsie And The Banshees, as I was completely fixated on them this is great to me but it sounds a lot like it could have escaped from their covers album ‘Through The Looking Glass.’ It is mainly to do with those witchy and gorgeous vocals and also because this sounds so damn classic, it is not a cover though it just naturally sounds lost in time and it is delivered with minimal instrumentation and maximum atmosphere; Trust In Me indeed! Having set up the trip ‘The Places You Walk’ gets the instruments calmly swaying and grooving in flare breezing shuffle. It struts down the sidewalk going nowhere fast and without a care in the world but soaking up the richness of the colours and scents it takes in with the heady 70’s weave of the melody. It’s not a head banger more of a knowledgeable, sagely nodder and that is pretty much the tempo of the album as a whole, which suits it perfectly. Even the guitar solo here couldn’t be more laid back! ‘That’s not to say that fairly mellow cannot equal heavy too as the rugged trembling and epic slow pounding of ‘The Divide’ takes form. Austere, hymnal, reverential are all words that can be used to describe the vocals here, the high priestess is definitely heralding the doom and it sounds like we should bow as we bear witness to it.
‘Into A Sleep’ as suggests is the complete flipside, a dreamy, floating psyche haze of a track, one to doze as you lie there in the sunshine watching the clouds float by; pure nirvana. If you are looking for a bit of a slow burning ballad and a song to get the lighters out for ‘Keep Your Weeds’ is the one for you. Not sure what the strange title is alluding to but one should always eat their greens and if that is impossible at least attempt to smoke them!
The overriding vibe from the album is a beautiful one, I reckon Jex has one of the loveliest voices around and the harmonies are quite enchanting, just listen to the chorus on the lush ‘The Four Of Us Our Dying’ and you will be a convert for sure. ‘Psyar’ the parting number is just one of many timeless songs that feels like it has seeped through the ether from bygone times and it, like the album cover art, buries you in its soporific, flowery waft forevermore.
(8/10 Pete Woods)