Scott “Wino” Weinrich and The Obsessed were one of the few bands waving the doomy, Black Sabbath-loving flag when, frankly, doom and Sabbath were not cool. They kept the faith during the dark days when it wasn’t cool to like big, slow, heavy riffs.
Times are different now. Sabbath are rightly held up as the legends they are, and the Stoner/Doom scene is flooded with bands of the highest quality to the point of over-saturation. But there’s always room for an old favourite. And finally, after a hiatus of some 23 years, The Obsessed are back with a new album, Sacred (Relapse).
Although it’s The Obsessed in name, Sacred only features Wino (this is his eighteenth studio album by my count) from any previous incarnation of the band. But bassist Reid Raley and drummer Brian Constantino have both played in Wino’s other project, Spirit Caravan, and so slot right in. The Obsessed core sound is still the same: a mix of downtuned heavy, helpings of stoner fuzz, and the occasional bit of Seventies rock thrown in for good measure.
A reworking of one of the band’s earliest singles, opening track ‘Sodden Jackal’ is unsurprisingly exactly what you expect; leaden, down tempo, and groovy. Although it’s an old track, Wino’s Ozzy-like vocals are still as potent as ever, as his ability with the guitar.
‘Punk Crusher’ might well be the fastest song in the band’s back catalogue, and vaguely remission of Motörhead at times. The title track boasts a confident, spacy swagger – Wino proclaims “We’re going to live forever” – and a flurry of solos.
There’s a nice mix of classic rock-inspired numbers and slower, more monolithic crushers. It encompasses not only everything good about The Obsessed, but pretty much every side of Wino bar his acoustic leanings. A crisp, modern sound benefits the album, giving everything a heft that a lot of classic stoner/doom albums lack.
‘Haywire’ is a straight up rocker, lead single ‘Razor Wire’ combines bite and fuzzbox riffs. ‘My Daughter, My Sons’ could the stoner’s equivalent to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Simple Man’ – a slow but upbeat and inspiring number imparting advice to the next generation. ‘Be the Night’ is a classic driving rock song to break the speed limit to.
It sags a little in the middle; though every track on the album is refreshingly simple and unfussy, there’s a lot of them and little to separate them. But Sacred is a worthy comeback for a band who with true cult status even when the term has overused. A great return, and one of Wino’s best performances in years.