Next review: » The Obsessed - Sacred
Released: 2017, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
It was sometime in early ’94 when I received a Columbia Records cassette sampler in the mail showcasing tunes from the heavier side of their roster. I don’t remember much of who else was featured on that sampler, but the lead track on side one was a song from a band I’d never heard before, “Brother Blue Steel” by The Obsessed. It sounded like Lemmy and VOL. 4 had a baby and named it Wino; I’d never heard anything quite like it before and it blew my mind. It was heavy like Sabbath, soulful like the most haggard of blues journeymen, dosed with some D.C. punk rock sneer, and capped with some of the most incredible guitar work that my adolescent brain had ever been exposed to. No exaggeration, that happenstance introduction to Wino and The Obsessed changed my life. I quickly sought after copies of anything of theirs I could find, and in the process stumbled my way into Saint Vitus, Trouble, Pentagram, and countless others along the way.
If this one fanboy’s story were an isolated incident, it’d be one thing, but stories like this are pretty run of the mill with fans of the band. In the 20-some years since THE CHURCH WITHIN, Wino has kept himself busy stewarding or participating in a slew of other projects, consciously opting to push forward creatively and not take the easier path of retreating to The Obsessed (save for a handful of live shows). A new record as The Obsessed would require the right songs and the right players, and would be burdened with a tremendous set of expectations. All of which found itself to be true when Wino announced the official return of The Obsessed last spring, and a brand new record, SACRED.
Opening with the booming crunch of “Sodden Jackal”, any concern that may have surrounded SACRED is quickly dismissed. Despite being one of the oldest tunes in the band’s catalogue, it never found a home on the original studio albums, so giving it the responsibility of kickstarting the next chapter of The Obsessed is a comforting nod to the faithful. But Wino’s never been content to linger in the past, and it’s the new material across SACRED that should get audiences excited. Choosing “Punk Crusher” as a single was a wise choice; the matter of fact riffs roar like a Harley barreling down an open highway, and it’s a readily singable, catchy tune. “Razor Wire” and “Be the Night” summon the spirit of DC punk and match it with a pocket full of groove, but as expected, it’s the murky, sulking stuff that hits the hardest. The title track swoons in epic fashion, and “My Daughter My Son” laments with painful, trudging declarations. But “Stranger Things” is a highlight on an album full of highlights. Tucked comfortably in the middle of the disc, it’s an unassuming track that builds slowly into a huge, anthemic chorus that tugs at your soul.
New alumni Dave Sherman and Brian Constantino round out the lineup as a monster rhythm section, and Wino sounds like he’s exorcising some of his personal demons across the album. His voice still sounds as leathery and pronounced as it did 20 years ago and his guitar playing is still otherworldly. The bonus track “On So Long” is a 9-minute bluesy, prog jam that lets the trio explore some breathing room, and demonstrates how tight they are as a band outside of the typical metal setting. And that’s kind of always been the appeal of The Obsessed. Doesn’t matter who’s in the band at the moment, doesn’t matter what decade it is, a record from The Obsessed is a going to be a real musical experience and there’s nothing else that’ll sound quite like it. SACRED is no exception; it’s right on the money and sounds like everything you'd hope for from The Obsessed - two decades removed and frozen in time. To quote an aging Han Solo, “we’re home.”
1. Sodden Jackal
2. Punk Crusher
5. Perseverance of Futility
6. It’s Only Money (Thin Lizzy cover)
7. Cold Blood
8. Stranger Things
9. Razor Wire
10. My Daughter My Sons
11. Be the Night
13. On So Long (Bonus)
14. Crossroader (Mountain cover, Bonus)
Scott “Wino” Weinrich – Vocals, Guitars
Dave Sherman – Bass, Vocals
Brian Constantino – Drums, Vocals
Released: 2017, Relapse Records
For a band that has released only three full-length albums prior to this one, The Obsessed have had a huge impact on Stoner/Doom metal. After an absence of 20 years, The Obsessed is back with a new album in SACRED. It is somewhat surreal writing that last line, but welcome at the same time. Wino is the only original left, but the current lineup more than holds its own. SACRED finds The Obsessed offering fans a longer album, considering the debut was just over 32 minutes.
Wino’s voice continues to be one of the band’s most defining qualities, possessing a recognizable tone that complements and is complemented by the music. A re-recorded tune from the 1983 demo, “Sodden Jackal”, heralds the return. It’s a worthy chugger, slung low and with a pulse that you can feel in your guts. The next two songs are excellent as well, with “Punk Crusher” revealing why the band has often been called America’s Motorhead with its simple but effective approach. The title track offers some higher note riffing in the intro before settling into a classic descending riff.
“Cold Blood”, despite being an instrumental is one of my personal favorites on the album, showcasing most of The Obsessed’s best tendencies with drummer Brian Costantino pushing the tune along to glory ride. “Be The Night” is a strong deep album track, coming as things near a conclusion and chugging along like an inebriated version of “Paranoid.” Still, with twelve songs and two bonus tracks, there are bound to be a few clunkers. “Haywire” is one of them, overdosing on simplicity but unfortunately offering nothing particularly catchy while feeling not fully developed. “It’s Only Money” also fails to meet the standards of the rest of the album, and while neither of these tunes are bad, they clearly are the weak links on SACRED.
Wino’s solos sound great and like I said the man is in possession of the perfect voice for this music, a cross between Lemmy and Phil Lynott. The production has that timeless quality, Relapse Records putting the proper effort into this project. Otherwise, not much left to say. The band has delivered an album worthy of the reunion and the past catalog. The Obsessed is one of those critical darlings that lots of bands and music industry folks point to as “important” but never experienced the success of other bands that followed them. Here is to SACRED changing that and bringing these guys the business success they deserve to accompany the artistic acclaim.
5.Perseverance of Futility
6.It's Only Money
9.Razor Wire 03:32
10.My Daughter My Sons
11.Be the Night
13.On So Long (Bonus Track)
14.Crossroader (Bonus Track)
Reid Raley Bass, Vocals
Brian Costantino Drums, Vocals
Scott "Wino" Weinrich, Guitars, Vocals