An Album to Actually Obsess Over
Discussions about metal music wouldn’t be fully authentic without mentioning the influential contributions of Scott “Wino” Weinrich. Still kicking, Wino’s gifted the music world with prominent creations in the respective realms of punk, stoner rock and doom metal since 1976. He has done everything from releasing solo records to relocating his life across the country to sing in the pioneering doom act Saint Vitus. But one of his finest endeavors can be credited to his work with his own band, The Obsessed. They have only three requisite albums, a few demos and a rotation of band members to speak of over the the last couple of decades, but their return in the form of their fourth album Sacred is more than triumphant — it’s damn magnificent.
Sacred is the first album from The Obsessed in 23 years, since The Church Within came out on Hellhound and Columbia Records back in 1994. Oftentimes, comeback efforts don’t prompt enough merit to justify returning in the first place, but Sacred demonstrates the band’s stronghold on what Wino established all those years ago. He’s the only original member left (the others now being Reid Raley of Rwake and Deadbird on bass and Brian Costantino of other Wino project Spirit Caravan on drums), but he has no issue helping his mates play a downtempo rerecording of “Sodden Jackal” to open up the album.
As the track and EP that started The Obsessed’s career, “Sodden Jackal” couldn’t kick off Sacred in better fashion. The recording is tighter and cleaner, without losing any of its recognition. A force of old-school rock ’n’ roll comes with “Punk Crusher,” where Motörhead comparisons are inevitable in this quickly-paced track.
Wino’s gruff vocality and penchant for heavy riffage definitely lead the album, but feats from the other members draw attention as well. Costantino’s drumming pairs nicely with organ and percussion lines on “Perseverance of Futility,” making for a very thick and slightly slower sound. On their cover of Thin Lizzy’s “It’s Only Money,” dual vocal work from Wino and Spirit Caravan bassist Dave Sherman, a since departed member intended for the new lineup, breathe new life into an old classic.
The Obsessed steer the term instrumental down an entirely different lane than the obvious one with “Cold Blood,” which sounds full and boisterous even without any vocal contribution. “My Daughter My Sons” exhibits just a slightly more introspective and sentimental side to Wino’s songwriting.
Sacred ends with two bonus tracks, titled “On So Long” and “Crossroader.” The former is an over-nine-minute opus of classic doom elements, while the latter takes the route of ’70s hard blues rock. Each is fairly different in their own way, but still help to shape the album’s cohesiveness. As the first release in over two decades, Sacred shows a band — or at least, a man — still well-connected to the foundation they were so influential in establishing.