Scott “Wino” Weinrich is a living legend. In a way he’s the American version of Lemmy and shares many traits with the late, much beloved metal icon. He’s always been a rebel, loner and an outsider in an outsider scene, pursuing his music without regard for popularity or acceptance. In the process he came to be considered one of the early pioneers of American doom. All of this began when he founded The Obsessed back in the 70s. As a key part of the 80s Washington/Maryland music scene, his music earned the respect of metal, punk and crossover fans alike while often being dubbed “doom metal.” Looking back though, it was really just gritty, street-wise American metal with a cynical bent and psychedelic flair.
He went on to join doom legends Saint Vitus and eventually disbanded The Obsessed in the early 90s after releasing three albums. Later he would launch Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand and several solo albums as well as playing in Shrinebuilder and Place of Skulls. Sacred is his first release under The Obsessed banner since 1994s The Church Within, and after 23 years away, I was unsure of exactly what to expect. Since Wino is the sole original member, this sounds like the same stripped down, back alley, hard rock influenced metal he’s known for, but heavier and more doom-centric than the old albums. Not that it matters anyway because it’s fucking Wino, man!
Opener “Sodden Jackal” greets you with big, burly doom riffing and an approach very similar to modern day Pentagram. The song has a laid back, casually heavy vibe and the frenetic solos impart sizzling jolts of energy. The song breaks at the 3-minute mark before going even deeper into Sabbathian doom riffing and winds down with some truly leaden leads. “Punk Crusher” is a much more upbeat, urgent rocker with more than a little Motörhead influence and you can almost hear Lemmy sharing vocals with Wino. It’s a fun asskicker of a tune with lots of leathery charisma.
The highlights include the hard hitting grooves and razor sharp riffing of the title track, the tough, punchy “Perseverance of Futility,” and the surprisingly catchy, melancholic charm of “Stranger Things.” “My Daughter, My Sons” reminds me a lot of the Victor Griffin’s (Pentagram) solo material and has that same languid 70s rock sensibility mixed with rough and rowdy riffage. The Griffin/Pentagram similarities are present throughout the album and this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as the two guitarists have had parallel careers and played together in Place of Skulls. Things end well with the barroom badassery of “Be the Night,” and those who get the bonus cuts will be treated to an awesome nine-minute jam-filled fantasy trip called “On So Long,” which reeks of 70s psychedelic rock and reefer madness (the guitar work here is some of the best on the album).
Sacred isn’t an immediate album and took several spins to fully open up for me, but when it did, it really did, and the simple arrangements took on unexpected depth and feeling. At 43 minutes it’s the perfect length and the production puts the appropriate amount of emphasis on the guitar, while the mix conveys a rugged gravitas.
Wino’s playing is very warm and engaging whether he’s churning out classic Iommi-worshiping leads, digging deep into the fuzz rock of the 70s or dabbling in American folk rock. He plays with a kind of working class, every man sensibility and the sincerity and honesty cannot be overstated. His earthy, lived in vocals have aged like fine hobo wine. He still sounds vibrant, edgy and full of piss, vodka and vinegar, like a wise street sage you’d best heed if you know what’s good for you. He’s supported well by Dave Sherman on bass and Brian Costantino on drums, both of whom served time in Wino’s Spirit Caravan project. They form a tight trio and generate a mix of 70s rock and doom as well suited for biker bars as metal clubs.
Wino is a national treasure and as authentic as a musician can be. In a time without Lemmy’s bigger than life personality, Wino’s underground earnestness is all the more precious and Sacred does right by the legacy of The Obsessed. I’m very thankful Wino resurrected his original project and that he’s still out there creating music this interesting and meaty. If you never heard The Obsessed, I’d suggest starting with the classic 80s albums, but Sacred is well worth your time and a very good addition to the Wino cellar. Face it, everyone needs more Wino in their lives.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Websites: theobsessed.bandcamp.com | theobsessedofficial.com | facebook.com/theobsessedofficial
Releases Worldwide: April 7th, 2017