SABBAT — The Dwelling — the ultimate metal music online community, from the creators of

SABBAT - The Dwelling cover
4.10 | 22 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1996

Filed under Black Metal


1. The Melody of the Death Mask (59:48)

Total Time: 59:48


- Gezol / bass, vocals
- Temis Osmond / guitars, vocals, keyboards
- Zorugelion / drums

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siLLy puPPy
Extreme metal can be accredited to early 80s bands like Venom, Hellhammer and early Bathory each of which showcased a mix of proto-thrash, proto-black and proto-death metal styles before all the respective subgenera would splinter off into various directions. Japan’s SABBAT (as opposed to the English band of the same name) formed all the way back in 1983 and was heavily inspired by these bands, especially Venom and while all those bands would evolve as the 80s ceded into the 90s, SABBAT sorta maintained that evil as fuck mix of 80s speed metal, proto-thrash and first wave black metal.

For that reason i’ve never been a huge fan of this SABBAT but there are exceptions and the album i return to the most is this exquisitely designed hour long single track titled "The Melody of the Death Mask" which not only features a brilliant display of an ever-changing musical callithump of various musical styles under the auspice of blackened thrash metal but also features one of my favorite album covers in all of the metal universe! The cover art does pretty much prognosticate what you should expect with THE DWELLING as well. While rooted in the same blackened thrash noise metal that SABBAT had latched onto since the beginning, THE DWELLING is a masterwork composition more in the vein of an epic classical opus from a time long ago.

While the 59:48 album is just shy of an hour’s playing time, it is amazing in how it crafts that much playing time off of a few simple melodies that are teased out into different directions with lengthy bursts of blackened thrash metal passages and cemented together with more tender transitions such as the acoustic classic guitar sequence that occurs about the half way mark. Another brilliant feature is the psycho piano parts towards the end and the coolest thing of all is that the whole shebang is played by the trio of Gezol (bass, vocals), Temis Osmond (guitars, vocals, keyboards) and Zorugelion (drums). The overall effect of these subtle changes that alternate with completely different stylistic approaches is very much in the vein of how Jethro Tull crafted an album’s worth of changes with a single theme on their masterpiece “Thick As A Brick.”

THE DWELLING begins with a catchy melodic hook that is nurtured for a while in a classic heavy metal approach fortified with thrash metal heft and then allowed it to shift gears a bit and slowly morph into a different series of riffing. The tempos change around with some crafty instrumental parts, tasty guitar solos and when the vocals do chime in they supposedly revolve around a concept but i’m honestly not sure what it is and can’t seem to find any info about it and in the long run doesn’t really matter since the music is completely enthralling and in a big way. For an hour’s worth of playing time for one sprawling track it would be very easy to lose track but somehow despite all odds SABBAT succeeds in keeping the album engaging.

My only minor gripe is that some sequences do play on a bit too long as the band milks certain ideas for this is actually not very common. The usual status quo is to embellish an idea and its possibilities and then shift on to something similar but different. For example after the first twenty minutes winds down, the music suddenly bursts into a new thrash metal sequence that continues on with different guitar solos, varying drumming patterns and tempo changes. Despite THE DWELLING bringing Edge of Sanity’s lauded “Crimson” to mind, this one is not particularly progressive at least in terms of crafty complexities and time signature changes but it is very artful in how it stitches together various compositions and fuses them into one monstrous musical adventure. By far my favorite SABBAT album and one that only gets better each time i give it a spin.
What if Black Sabbath took a left turn into black metal? I suspect the end result might sound something like Sabbat's The Dwelling, which lurches drastically between fuzzed-out doomy passages and biting black metal fury. I understand that it's meant to be a concept album from the point of view of a serial killer trapped in the downward spiral of his self-destructive madness, though I suspect it'll take numerous listenings before I can piece the story together; still, the old school black metal imagery of witches and demons which informs the vocals sits nicely with the Mayhem-meets-Venom tone of the black metal sections. On the whole, an interesting effort, though I wouldn't call it a classic.
I have a three way tie going when I think of the best 'metal' album ever, between Edge of Sanity's Crimson, Ictus's Imperivm and this somewhat obscure masterpiece. If you are not aware, all three albums are single song ones, of quite massive length. This album however, clocks in at the imposing length of 59 minutes, 48 seconds. That's a lot of time to ask of a listener, and you'd have to expect that it would be worth your time to sit for an hour and listen.

In my humble subjective opinion, yes. Yes it is. The Dwelling stands out amongst Sabbat's discography, not only as an anomaly in its single song structure, but in its progressiveness. There are no real repeated segments, and it all flows as if it is a single continuous track, as it has been mastered as one. That's probably why I've insisted a few times that this album should also be on Progarchives, even if it is a majorly different can of worms to most of Sabbats work.

In an hour length, you'd expect there to be parts of the album that drag or deviate into monotony or predictability, but there are none to be found here. Although I am not as musically literate as some, I will say that the way the album has been made ensures that not a single moment of its impressive length is wasted. Even in the 7 minute instrumentation that fills the middle of the song plays out as a nessersary progression to the story, and remains constantly involving.

The story itself, is probably the weakest point, at least at the beginning, where it seems like a typical bewitching/black metal jam in a sense. However, on closer inspection of the lyrics, the album results in a twisted morality tale, where the actions of the 'protagonist' in the end leaves him haunted and 'doomed', at least, this is the impression I got from reading them.

Black metal, being as niche a genre as there is, tends to have quite incomprehensible lyrics, and in this albums case, this is no exception - however unlike some black metal where the lyrics do not complement the other musical elements, I feel that they are not out of place in the slightest.

If I had to step back and justify my perfect score, I would say there are minute segments that do not work completely for me - such as the interesting vocal approach 7 minutes in. However, being such a short niggle, there's no sense in holding that against the album, and in terms of the flow, it still works to progress the narrative and in the grander scope of the story.

Overall, I think from the black metal albums I have heard, this stands as a distinctive high point, and its obscurity even 15 years after its release is something that should be remedied. Even for those who do not generally like Black Metal, I recommend this album to. It's a good transition album if anything, and is quite a lot more accessible then its single song structure may imply. The time really does fly when you listen to it.

It's on Youtube in its entirety now, and it deserves more views/listens then it has had. But really, buy this album now, it deserves more then the occasional download.
There's something special about 'The Dwelling' that sets it apart from other magnificent albums that I have listened to. For the longest time, I've considered this album my personal favorite album ever in heavy metal or in music in general. Sabbat have gone through four albums of awesome evil sounding black metal; and when round five comes along, they spring an hour long song at us. This would either be really awesome or a waste of time. Not only did 'The Dwelling' fall into the former category, it went beyond awesome and made itself a very personal favorite of mine. Even any complaints I see about this song's length I consider shallow.

With such a lengthy song, there really is no proper way to listen to this album besides just hitting play and listening to the whole thing. The first few minutes start the song off slower with lead guitars and scary sounding vocals coming in after a bit. The production is perfect for a black metal album. It's not fine, yet it's not raw enough to make it totally sound like shit. This makes the song almost scary sounding. Before even entering the 3 minute section, the guitar breaks into tremolo riffing.

Sabbat have the good taste to keep things well varied in this piece. Only three minutes later, the tempo drops with the scary sounding ambient keyboards coming back into the background and a solo starting up. The tempo then speeds up while Temis continues his solo. It ends before the speedier section stops again; but when this section does end, the slow part before the solo comes back and his soloing starts up again. With that, a grand piano also comes into play eventually creating a auditory vortex of chaos as Temis's soloing, the piano, the bass drums, and Gezol's lyrical recital churns up the fires of hell stronger than they have ever done before.

However, we aren't even ten minutes into this beast! After the vortex ends, another tremolo riff signals the beginning another speedier section. When the slow it down again, they keep the ambiance and piano out of it and make it more of a mid-paced rhythmic section. It does acquire a scary tone around the 16:38 as it builds up to a slightly faster rhythm. In this faster rhythm, Gezol's clean lyrics are really haunting in sound. Once the lyrics end in this section, the rhythm slows down again with more frighting sounding musical section. Temis begins another lead with it going into another fast rhythm and Gezol's same haunting clean vox.

Finally we go into a totally new rhythm at 20:18. Gezol goes back into his black metal shouting/shrieking. After he's done with his vocal lines, the song speeds up with drums going into an almost blast-beat-like rhythm. This type of passage is repeated once. After the second time, a new rhythm comes in that soon slows down. Soon another, more mellow sounding, lead from Temis comes in with it eventually playing in melody with Gezol's bass. After a brief section of vocals and partial blast-beating drums, another lead comes in from Temis. This time it's less mellow and, when played with a blast-beating section, becomes really furious. Everything then culminates and builds up...

And then it all stops. Or rather it fades away to be replaced by acoustic guitar. We're just about halfway through the song at this point, and what better to celebrate the halfway mark than a haunting oriental sounding acoustic rhythm. This acoustic rhythm gets some accompaniment after a bit with a lead guitar playing with it as well as the bass and drums. The song speeds up again after the 31:30 mark with another lead from Temis. Then slows down with only the drums and acoustic guitar playing, followed by only electric guitar and bass.

This rather mellow section is finally ended at the 34:29 mark with a notably faster rhythm being played in tremolo and vocals soon coming back in. It eventually speeds up more with Gezol continuing his vocal lines eventually ending in "LAH-NAH-NAH-NAH-NAH-NAH!" This section is repeated with the same type of ending on the vocals. Then all instruments except bass. After a bit, the guitar, bass drum, and even the ambiance from earlier in the song come back in to buildup to a slow section of melodic playing on both guitar and bass. This instrumental section goes all the way up to the later end of the 41 minute section with the buildup returning to introduce a similar rhythm with different rhythm and no leading, but vocals do return. After one vocal passage, the leading begins again.

We're running out of time at this point with just a little more than 15 minutes left of the song. The rhythm stays mid-paced around here. When the vocals come in again, it sounds like Temis singing. His voice is distinctly higher than Gezol's. Though at one point, Temis's shouting and Gezol's lower haunting voice play through together. More sections of tempo changes and leads go in and out until Temis does another verse without ending in a duet with Gezol. The next run begins around the 49 minute mark. Gezol takes the lead vocal role once more with the music sticking to a mid-paced rhythm. Then, the music gets really fast with the guitar and bass playing together in a flying dual tremolo rhythm interrupted by the bopping on the grand piano. The flying dual lead and piano section are repeated again before mellowing out once more to a mid-paced rhythm. Gezol's vocals are recited in unison with Temis's lead before the lead totally takes control of the song. The lead continues on before returning to the original rhythm...

...and then we're back to the beginning? The rhythm is very much the same as the very beginning of the song. And you know what? What better way to end this? Closing vocal lines and lead guitar playing are gotten out of the way. Afterwards, the guitar plays some more notes by itself with bass and sparse percussion joining in a final push to close the song. The bass itself gets a little more prominent than the guitar even. The ambiance begins to fade back in with all the metal instruments still playing. Finally, the metal instruments all fade away leaving the dark ambient sounding keyboards to reflect upon the hour that just passed into the ears.

Wow. Just wow. Sabbat have seriously outdid themselves here. Gezol, Temis, and Zorugelion have played their respective instruments masterfully. Gezol's vocals are haunting and awesome as always, and his bass playing is inspirational as always. Temis's guitar prowess shines to it's maximum potential given all the room to do so. Zorugelion doesn't miss a beat on his drums, and he is the one who really signals the changes in the songs structure. 'The Dwelling' to me is the greatest musical production in the history of music. Though there may be other albums that I give the 100% to, I still give this album much more praise; and every time I listen to another album that might get a 100% score from me, I ask my self "Is this better than 'The Dwelling'?"

And the answer has always been "no."

Members reviews

(Originally written for and the Encylopedia Metallum.)

I'm not one to give out perfect reviews easily. On some of my earlier reviews on other review sites I just threw around perfect ratings and overexaggerated the albums - they're still good albums, but I gave them too much credit. However, I believe I am completely justified in giving a 5 star rating to Sabbat's 1996 release, "The Dwelling", because it is quite possibly the most mindblowing creation a human mind can craft together and make it absolutely without flaws.

Sabbat are a Japanese black metal/thrash metal band formed in the 1980's. They have released many albums in the longrun, but only a few studio albums, one of them being this one.

It's funny, really. Black metal is probably one of my least favorite subgenres of metal music but this still manages to be THE, not one of, THE greatest song I've ever heard.

"The Dwelling" consists of one 59 minute and 48 second song called "The Melody of Death Mask". The lyrics of this song are typical black metal, following the story of a Hannibal Lecter-esque character who commits a string of murders to serve his purpose, in his own twisted mind, as an "artist". The riffs are melancholy and sorrowful and fit the lyrics perfectly, as well as Gezol's harsh vocals which are vicious but not too loud like with other black metal bands. The solos are viking-like and ooze with sorrow and beauty. The higher pitched vocals may sound ridiculous at first, but are a major attribute to the darkness of this album. The drums aren't essential to enjoying this album but at times they can be truly wonderful, like the drum fills during the last 10 minutes or so.

The lyrics, while twisted, really bring out the imagination in the listener. There is some profanities thrown here and there, but it's not an all out F bomb fest like other black metal albums. Also, throughout some parts of the album the lyrics describe the killer's forsaken house with a "secret basement" which I found interesting. As one reviewer said, you could just simply mute any old horror movie and play "The Dwelling" in the background, and discover many horrors in the process.

As for highlights of the album, there is literally too many to name. EVERY riff and solo is good, and every melody delivers like no other. Some riffs might make you feel filthy or "sinful" given the low quality production, but that's all part of the experience.

The ending of "The Dwelling" is the greatest thing ever written. Not just in music - this climax to this song really is THE greatest thing my ears have had the pleasure of listening to. For every riff that leads up to the solo which leads to the same riff we didn't hear until the very beggining of the song, followed by the haunted, apocalyptic chanting which leads to the dripping sorrowful guitar which ends the song with the same sound as in the first few seconds, everything about it is simply chilling in it's melancholy intensity.

Finishing this album is like finishing a good book - you are unaware of your physical existence for a few seconds, because for the past few hours you're eyes have been locked to nothing but the text. The dazed state only takes a few seconds, and you look around you to make sure you're still in a physical state. Sure enough, you are.

That is exactly how this album will make you feel. The greatest song ever written. Listen to this now, and be completely swept away in it's sad, twisted, brutal and sorrowful hurricane of emotions which will guaranteed change the way you look at metal, or possibly even music in general. Hands down, one hundred percent, the greatest piece of artwork ever made.

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