Can this really be considered as a comeback? The Obsessed, much like fellow Maryland doom legends Pentagram, had a bit of a checkered past. In the 70’s and early 80’s, they were one of those bands where you kinda had to be there, and it wasn’t until people started bootlegging the shit outta their unreleased ’85 album (which saw a somewhat official release in 1990) that Wino went and brought the band name back… without any of its other original members. And don’t get me wrong, the two records he recorded with Scott Reeder, Greg Rogers and Guy Pinhas were pretty decent… but those guys are not a part of this project, either. As a matter of fact, I read somewhere that the other musicians who recorded Sacred have already been replaced—so this is certainly not an original lineup recording, or any kind of return to the glory years.
With that said, anything with Wino’s name on it always carries a certain cachet. Hell, one of the biggest stoner/doom blogs out there, which I don’t see a need to name here, has dedicated a certain day of the week to him (“Wino Wednesdays”). And to be fair, most of the stuff that he’s lent his vocals and/or guitar to has been pretty awesome—there is no changing the fact that Born Too Late will always be my favourite Saint Vitus album, and hey, even some of his solo acoustic stuff is not bad, if you like that sorta thing. But still, this is essentially a Wino solo album with The Obsessed slapped on it in order to sell more copies. You could say it’s the Seventh Star of their discography.
But they certainly don’t shortchange ya on the tracklist, with 14 tracks clocking in just over 57 minutes. Interestingly enough, they start off by recycling “Sodden Jackal,” a track dating back to the 80’s, which also appeared on the Southern Lord compilation Incarnate. From there, we get “Punk Crusher,” a fairly up-tempo pre-release single on which Wino’s voice dominates the verses ahead of a punky, thrashy chorus. There’s also a bit of vintage Judas Priest on some of the guitar tones here, which is never a bad thing.
The title track, by contrast, slows things down and stretches them out over a bit more than five minutes. There’s a bit Dave Chandler, or even Iommi, in some of the instrumental breaks, but for the most part, it’s a straight-ahead chugger that one would expect from a record with The Obsessed’s name on it. Some classic Wino tones abound on tunes like “Haywire,” “Perseverance” and “It’s Only Money,” which collectively clock in under 10 minutes.
“Cold Blood” might be the closest this record comes to Lunar Womb; a solid slice of groovy, heavy rock… and it’s an instrumental! On the other hand, “Stranger Things” is somewhat more akin to Spirit Caravan, at least in its chorus. The backbeat on the verses kinda bugs me though. A little too “radio rock” for my tastes. But at six and a half minutes long, this sure ain’t no single… and what the funk is with that instro section around the four-minute mark!?
It’s not hard to hear why “Razor Wire” was the first single off of this one. It’s pretty much everything you want from a Wino song—the riffs, vocals and breakdowns all certainly sound like The Obsessed. Songs like this make this record—and this outfit, regardless of who else is in it—still sound relevant in 2017.