Wino – Adrift

By Gruesome Greg

Long before the digital promo invitation arrived in my inbox, I knew that the new Wino record was going to be an acoustic album. Now, I’m generally not too fond of acoustic folk/blues, and my last experience with a sludge/doom icon gone solo nearly bored me to tears. Frankly, I’ll never know what convinced Scott Kelly that doing an unplugged set in between fully-amplified YOB and Sleep was a good idea—incidentally, he’s opening for Wino on his Adrift tour.

Then again, when it comes to the post-sludge mastery of Neurosis, Kelly’s vocal stylings were never the strongest selling point. On the other hand, Wino’s mournful cries lifted Saint Vitus from a sorta-slow trad metal band to one of the greatest doom metal outfits of all time. (Born Too Late wouldn’t have been what it was with Reagers, no way, even though I liked his voice on the early stuff…) With his legendary pipes and distinctly emotive guitar playing, I figure that if anyone in the doom scene can pull of an unplugged album, it’s Wino.

The title track, which leads off Adrift, is almost Gordon Lightfooteque in its tale of love lost at sea. “I Don’t Care” is more what I expected, a bluesy anthem to rebellion with a coupla wailing (electric) guitar solos. It isn’t the last song to feature plugged-in soloing, either.

Wino’s most rugged vocal work comes on his unplugged version of Motorhead‘s “Iron Horse/Born To Lose,” a song that’s been covered many times, yet seems so well-suited to his acoustic interpretation. Meanwhile, album-closer “Green Speed” contains his shreddiest solo. Dude really rips it on that tune!

Although I’ve got no grading scale or any reference points when it comes to acoustic folk, I will say that if you worship Wino, you’ll want this. Personally, Born Too Late is more of what I turn to when I want to mellow out and relax, but if your eardrums have been overly abused, and you need something more soothing—yet haunting in its stripped-down honesty, then Adrift should be good for a spin or two. Beats the hell outta Scott Reeder‘s Tunnelvision Brillance, for whatever that’s worth.

(Exile On Mainstream)

Sean is the founder/publisher of; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.