Obsessed, The - Sacred
Released by: Relapse Records
Released on: April 7th, 2017.
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The first album from The Obsessed in over twenty years sees Reid Raley on bass, Brian Costantino on drums and Scott "Wino" Weinrich handling guitar and lead vocal duties. These guys have been around, on again/off again and in one form or another, since 1976, but since signing to Relapse in 2016 it seems that The Obsessed has become more of a full time gig for Wino (who is probably better known at this point for his work with Saint Vitus and Spirit Caravan).
The album starts off with Sodden Jackal, four and a half minutes of straight of Sabbath worship. The Obsessed never tried to hide the influence but here they really go for it, slathering this track in Iommi-esque riffs and a heavy, doom-laden atmosphere. It's pretty great, even if, yeah, it really is Sabbath worship at its most blatant. From there, things get a bit more original sounding with Punk Crusher (check the second video linked below), a raging blast of a track that clocks in at just under four minutes and incorporates Hawkwind-inspired moments of space rock alongside more tradition elements of boogie and the sort of doomy tones that The Obsessed are more often affiliated with. Fittingly, the track gets increasingly speedy and punk influenced as it progresses, making this one of the stand out songs on the record.
Sacred, the title track, is a five minute slab of riff-heavy doom, layering a monstrously heavy full frontal guitar assault at the listener while the rhythm section anchors things nicely. Wino's vocals always sound honest and sincere, that's a big part of this band's appeal, but here there's something a bit more intense about them, even when he says things like "grab you mama by your thighs." Not everyone can pull of lyrical majesty like that. Haywire is a two and a half minute shotgun blast, a track about living the life of a rock n roller, dealing with it on the road and all that. You get the impression that these guys mean every word, every note, of this track. Perseverance Of Futility spends four minutes stuck in a sticky, thick groove. Guitars up front, in your face, loud and proud. It's more of a mid-tempo sludge track than anything else but it'll make you want to shake your ass a bit, and that's never a bad thing. A heavy blues rock influence works its way into this one, which leads nicely into the two and a half minute long It's Only Money. Ending the first side of the album on a seriously solid groove, we're treated to some slick bass work, tight drumming, and of course Wino's guttural vocals. Again, the blues rock influence is huge here, but it's filtered through an appreciation for the heavy and the dark.
The second half kicks off with Cold Blood, clocking in at just shy of five minutes in length. This is, like the first two tracks, a bit more traditional doom, though it works in some odd percussion and a strange staccato style to the tempo that'll throw you off if you're not paying attention. That's a good thing, the chord changes in this instrumental track are genuinely cool. Stranger Things has a weird distorted sound to it, showcasing the band experimenting a bit with tone, style and sound while somehow remaining true to some fairly traditional metal roots. At the same time, despite the length and the deviations this is the most 'radio friendly' sounding track on the record. Razor Wire (see the first video link below) is catchy and groovy and riff-centric, channeling Motorhead at times, and maybe a bit of ZZ Top too, but somehow sounding more modern than anything else on the record and not necessarily in a good way. My Daughter, My Sons offers up a four minute chugging, plowing, dirge of a track, but it's just not that memorable, there's nothing about this track to make it stand out.
The album finds its footage again with Be The Night, a two minute sleaze-tastic riff fest. Lyrically it might not be all that interesting, in fact it's ripe with cliches, but it sounds good and it'll get your fist pumping and your head banging. Things kinda-sorta close off with a twenty-eight second instrumental track called Interlude that's over before you know it, but depending on which version you get, you could wind up with a bonus track called On So Long. This thing is just over nine minutes long and it's far trippier and more psychedelic than anything else on Sacred. It's a bit of a slow jam and it's overdoes some of the vocal effects at times, but it's an interesting song with some solid lyrics and some really slick guitar playing.
There are a couple of missteps here but overall, Sacred is a pretty damn good comeback record for a band that hasn't recorded anything in well over two decades. Wino's voice is a big part of the draw here, he sings it like he means it, and those that bow at the altar of the riff will find much to love about his guitar work too. This never goes as over the top as some of their contemporaries or some of the more recent bands that were clearly inspired by The Obsessed's earlier output, but it doesn't need to. If it's imperfect, so be it, it's still a very good record.