Dee Calhoun Posts Cover Art, Info and Teaser for Go to the Devil

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

dee calhoun

Go to the Devil, the second second solo album from Iron Man vocalist Dee Calhoun, is set to release later this year via Argonauta Records. The record was first announced here in the early hours of 2017, but more info has started to surface about the answer to last year’s Rotgut (review here) debut outing, including the cover art and a teaser clip that features multiple tracks which would seem to find the acousti-metal style of Calhoun‘s prior outing, informed by country and folk blues as it was, well intact. Of course, the power of his voice goes without saying at this point, or at least it should for anyone who’s heard his work with Iron Man or who caught wind of the first outing.

Of further note is bringing Iron Man bassist Louis Strachan into the studio as he’s become a regular accompaniment for Calhoun on stage, and I should probably also mention that it’s only been days since Calhoun‘s new project, Thee Iron Hand, was announced, which brings him together with members of The Hidden HandIronboss and Lifetime Shitlist. More info on that is here. The current status of Iron Man seems to be somewhat up in the air.

Argonauta sent this down the PR wire:

dee-calhoun-go-to-the-devil

DEE CALHOUN reveals new album teaser and cover artwork

“Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun, the voice of doom legends Iron Man, is nearing completion of his sophomore solo release, entitled Go to the Devil. The album, which will be released via Argonauta Records later this year, is the follow-up to Dee’s 2016 solo release Rotgut.

Dee will be joined on this album by Iron Man bandmate Louis Strachan on bass. Dee will handle vocal, acoustic guitar, and percussion duties.

Go to the Devil, like Rotgut before it, is being recorded in Dee’s home studio The Dustbuster. Mastering will be handled by Doug Benson at Commodore Recording Studio in Thurmont MD.

The track listing for Go to the Devil is as follows:

Common Enemy
Bedevil Me
Born (One-Horse Town)
The Final Stand of the Fallen
Go to the Devil
Me Myself and I
The Lotus Field is Barren
Jesus, the Devil, the Deed
The Ballad of the Dixon Bridge
Your Face
Dry Heaves & Needles

The album’s cover is by Dee Calhoun, based upon his own concept.

www.screamingmaddee.com
https://www.facebook.com/screamingmaddee/
www.argonautarecords.com

Dee Calhoun, Go to the Devil album teaser

Tags: , , , , , ,

Pentagram Update on Status of Bobby Liebling & Upcoming Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

It happened a couple weeks ago that doom legends Pentagram wound up playing shows as a trio without their legendary frontman Bobby Liebling. For three East Coast gigs alongside Brant Bjork in Baltimore, New York and Boston, they performed as the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Victor Griffin, bassist Greg Turley and drummer “Minnesota” Pete Campbell, and now it looks like they’ll be taking that same show to Europe this summer as well. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me to think of this as a revamped lineup of Death Row or even Place of Skulls, but having seen Griffin in both those outfits as well as in Liebling-fronted Pentagram, I know that the chance to see him singing those songs is worth taking advantage of while you can, because you don’t necessarily know when it’s coming around again.

In the meantime, questions loom about just what exactly Liebling‘s situation is. Of course, his history of opiate abuse is well-documented, and it doesn’t seem far-fetched to think the hospitalization and apparent arrest discussed below have something to do with that, but though reports have started to surface driving speculation that he assaulted his mother and was arrested for that, details have yet to really be confirmed of what his situation is in either the short or longer term, whether drugs are involved or not, and so forth. What I do know for sure is that after eight triumphant years of Liebling fronting Pentagram‘s resurgence, it’s a bummer to see something like this happen, and it goes without saying that on behalf of myself and this site, I wish all the best to GriffinTurley and Campbell going forward, and that whatever help Bobby Liebling needs, he gets.

Here’s their update and upcoming shows:

pentagram-photo-andrew-beardsworth

PENTAGRAM PRESS RELEASE

As was the case for the recently completed US shows, vocalist Bobby Liebling will not appear with Pentagram for previously booked European dates this summer.

To elaborate, Bobby called on April 17 saying he had been admitted to the hospital. He called again on April 19, this time after being transferred to a Maryland detention facility.

He’s now awaiting a preliminary hearing at which time it will be determined if a follow-up on any alleged charges are necessary. An update will be published when information is available. The band will be fulfilling all currently booked appearances with 36-year mainstay guitarist Victor Griffin performing all vocals.

A PERSONAL NOTE FROM THE BAND

The outpouring of support on our recent US dates was outstanding! Your energy was matched ten-fold and encouraged us to carry on and deliver what many have called, even by skeptics, some of the best Pentagram performances they’ve seen. Thank you!

We have the best fans in the world and if not for you, the legacy of this band would have died long ago. We won’t let you down now. The music lives on and as we move forward, we reiterate the lyrics of “Curious Volume”: “In this venture death waits in the shadows, but in survival the volume won’t die!”

Sincerely,
Victor, Greg, & Pete

VICTOR GRIFFIN STATEMENT 05/11/17

As I sit here reading the Pentagram headlines and wondering what to say…

I can only thank you for such an overwhelming level of support under the circumstances. It’s been 36 years of dealing with more drama than you can probably imagine. The ‘Last Days Here’ documentary was only a glimpse. Constantly squandered opportunities led me to quit Pentagram on several occasions, only to eventually give benefit of the doubt and rejoin. With this latest incident, and not to pronounce guilt before trial, the pinnacle of that era has been reached.

I also personally apologize for any less than straight forward and possibly confusing updates posted on the Pentagram site.

Greg, Pete, and I are excited about carrying on with a greater enthusiasm than was even possible before. Regardless of how we do that beyond the currently booked summer dates, and under what name…our appreciation for your support is inexpressible.

We hope to see you on the road…Godspeed!

P.S. For those of you who may believe in prayer…Bobby is a man who needs all he can get.

PENTAGRAM UPCOMING LIVE DATES
May 15 Kocaeli Sabanc? Culture Center Kocaeli, Turkey
Jun 18 HELLFEST Clisson, France
Jul 12 Patronaat Haarlem, Netherlands
Jul 14 Arena Wien Bezirk-Landstrasse, Austria
Aug 17 Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas, NV

http://www.PentagramOfficial.com
https://www.facebook.com/pentagramusa
http://www.peaceville.com/store

Pentagram, Live in Cambridge, MA 04.23.17

Tags: , , ,

The Obsessed Interview with Scott “Wino” Weinrich: Declaring the Sacred

Posted in Features on April 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obsessed Photo-Susie-Costantino

Of all the events that might’ve taken place in doom this decade, I don’t know if The Obsessed putting out a record was the least likely, but it had to be somewhere on the list. And the road that brought the legendary Maryland-doom-agenda-setters to the point of releasing their Relapse Records debut, Sacred (review here), is suitably winding. Never mind the fact that it’s been 23 years since the last time the unit founded and fronted by Scott “Wino” Weinrich (Saint VitusSpirit CaravanThe Hidden HandPremonition 13Shrinebuilder, etc.) offered up what most probably figured was their final studio outing, 1994’s The Church Within — it’s been half a decade since this reunion got underway, beginning with a set in the Netherlands at Roadburn 2012 (review here).

In the years since, The Obsessed has receded and come to the fore again. Weinrich was still fronting Saint Vitus at the time in support of that band’s reunion offering, Lillie: F-65 (review here), and though that tenure would end unceremoniously following a well-publicized drug arrest in Norway late in 2014, it was the three-piece Spirit Caravan that he went back to first, reunited with bassist Dave Sherman, also of Earthride and Weed is Weed and eventually bringing on board Brian Costantino in place of original drummer Gary IsomSpirit Caravan toured and threatened a new record, but before they could get there, they announced early last year that Spirit Caravan was now The Obsessed and they’d be continuing under the moniker Wino first put to use in 1980.

Fair enough. More tumult followed after this three-piece hit the studio with Frank “The Punisher” Marchand to track what they’d come to call Sacred, with Wino and Sherman parting ways and The Obsessed reforming for a short time as a double-guitar four-piece featuring former The Hidden Hand bassist/vocalist Bruce Falkinburg before once more paring back to a trio of WeinrichCostantino and bassist Reid Raley, also of Arkansas post-sludgers RwakeThe Obsessed had done gigs all along with Raley in the lineup, including Maryland Deathfest, but in bringing him on board full-time, the band seems to have settled the issue as much as these things are ever settled, and though the chaos surrounding Sacred is palpable, the album itself is treated fitting to its title.

That is to say, while the process by which it came about and its aftermath have been anything but, the actual record and the songs that comprise Sacred are fluid, unconfused, progressive, and most of all — heavy. Fast or slow, light or dark, they bear the hallmarks of Weinrich‘s songwriting style, and whether they’re playing toward bluesy convention or bridging the how-is-this-still-so-wide-when-we-know-all-doomers-are-grown-up-punks gap of doom and punk, The Obsessed circa 2017 are living up to and pushing forward one of the genre’s most storied and influential legacies. Whatever the future might hold for the band, Sacred pays for its unlikeliness in the sheer quality of its craft and execution, and when this year is over, there’s no question it will stand as a landmark for even more than the simple fact that it exists — though that’s not to take away from that either, because the fact that it exists remains pretty fucking impressive.

The Obsessed are on tour now in the US with Karma to BurnFatso Jetson and Lo-Pan. Dates are posted here.

I had the first slot of a press day to speak with Weinrich about making the album… and a terrible connection. There was a lot lost of our conversation to the digital ether of crackles, pops, fadeouts. We got disconnected twice. Still, I did my best to recover what I could of the interview and it turned out to be plenty.

You’ll find the results below, with my thanks for reading.

THE OBSESSED PHOTO SUSIE COSTANTINO

The Obsessed Interview with Scott “Wino” Weinrich

Take me through the decision to move from Spirit Caravan to The Obsessed. How did that come about and what went into that for you?

Spirit Caravan was with Dave Sherman and then we had a succession of drummers. Where I met the current drummer for The Obsessed, Brian Costantino, was actually many years ago. He was a friend of the band when The Obsessed was together back in the ‘70s and ‘80s and he and I had not seen each other for quite a while, so we put Spirit Caravan back together we had Ed Gulli playing drums…

So Brian came around and I didn’t realize in the time that we had been apart that he had played the drums. He came around for rehearsal and Brian sat down behind the kit and we had a little jam and that’s kind of what started the whole thing rolling because the wheels are coming off the wagon a little bit with Spirit Caravan and Eddie didn’t want to tour and there’s some other issues and so I just looked prior and so BrIan was pretty much never in Spirit Caravan. Now Sherman’s on the record, but some other things happened and we trying to move ahead without him. So basically when I met Brian I realized after our first couple of camps that Brian grew up on The Obsessed. It was his favorite band and in the years we had been apart from each other, he had become quite a successful drummer and he was tired of what he was doing which was kind of like cover stuff and playing with some local bands.

He had basically just retired from playing and then I came along and gave him a call one evening and was like man do you want to reform The Obsessed and he said, “Yeah let’s do this.” You know, it’s the kind of chemistry that really reinspired me. It’s exactly what I needed. I realize that the songs, the old type of songs for me seemed to be timeless and I just started right away and we really kicked it off. It really was about a chemistry thing between me and Brian and there was this confusion after that with the [lineup, and] I decided to try a little experiment so I called [Bruce Falkinburg] to the basement and he goes “yes,” and then my fiancée came and we decided to put [the band together as a four-piece].

Well, everything was pretty groovy at first, but a touring commitment and came up and there was some wavering and I had been assured that everything was going to be cool but it became obvious to me that it really is all about commitment and I understand but not everybody is just willing to leave their job and just play musical instruments. So I’ve got  nothing for admiration of everybody but reality [was that] Bruce had to be replaced and Reid Raley was actually our first choice but he’s eight hours away from where we rehearse and for some reason I just forgot what a rogue one he was. Anyway we brought him in and we’ve had a couple weeks and man the chemistry is just extremely focused now. We’re back in a three-piece with Reid, and man, it’s really on. I feel completely energized.

You had played with Reid before in The Obsessed though as well. He was at Maryland Deathfest with you, right?

Yeah, Reid is a very personable guy and while I was touring with Vitus, Reid saw I was having some issues with Guy, who played on The Church Within and was a member of The Obsessed for some years. Guy had some immigration issues but didn’t really tell us and so he booked the Maryland Deathfest kind of knowing that he wasn’t going to be able make it. So it was kind of weird, but Reid told me “whatever you need if you need me to play bass for you to help you out, I will,” so I said at that point in time, “Yeah, why don’t you do that?” So me and Reid have some good history.

Is it a little strange? Sacred is the first Obsessed album in 20-odd years and it’s such a different band.

The only thing different is the bass player. We were a three-piece when we recorded Sacred. The nucleus of The Obsessed is me and Brian and I think the addition of Reid is nothing but good. And I’m very proud of the record. We’re already playing seven songs off the record, and we play the material live and I’m super-proud of that record. I think it’s great. I not just saying it because it’s my record but I think it’s the best sounding record I’ve ever done. I’m completely inspired. We’re ready to take these songs out on the road. I mean it’s been a long time, but you know, but it seems the time has never been right in the past and it seems like everything is lining up pretty good now.

Why do you think that is?

I think it’s because A) the music is top notch and B) In my opinion I think that I also must say that in my opinion, Frank Kozik and his label Man’s Ruin was pretty crucial in kind of opening up the door to hard rock and stoner rock or whatever, and he also opened up the power of the internet. I mean, come on, back when The Obsessed was starting to take off we did a video for “Streetside” and if you got on Bevis and Butt-Head, that was a venue. If it didn’t pass the Bevis and Butt-Head test you were done (laughs). I remember “Streetside” hit Bevis and Butt-Head and one of them said, “Ah they look old,” and that was it. But now you’ve got YouTube. The label. We’re on a very strong label. The label did really, really well and I feel honored to be on Relapse, and there’s a mutual respect thing and I think it’s just good now. I can’t say I fully understand why. I just know this is the time.

Talk to me about the Obsessed now as opposed to 20 years ago? How is it different for you? Has it felt like a crazy last couple of years after the whole situation with Vitus, playing with Conny Ochs, doing the solo stuff. Does going back to The Obsessed feel like going home for you?

It felt like going home for me and you have to understand that between me and Brian, Brian grew up with The Obsessed. It was his favorite band. It was Obsessed for all these years, so that has been like his main focus and when we reconnected I was truly flabbergasted that he’s an astounding drummer and it we haven’t seen each other in how many years?

It’s actually really mind blowing in a really, really good way. So we’ve got this amazing chemistry, lived together, we’re like a hardcore team and it finally feels right. The Church Within was cool, but with Greg and Guy, it’s touring, but when I started the reunion stuff, the one-offs, it just didn’t feel right. I’ve kind of felt in way as if I was been going through the motions. I’m really feeling good about stuff, like the chemistry between me and Brian and Reid. I’m pretty excited. I made a pretty important lifestyle changes to embrace this wave.

Can you talk about that?

Obviously, anybody who knows my past knows I had a very long period of sobriety in this reunion and after the separation and I lost the ability to see my kids and then we got separated for three or four years, i was pretty torn up and I fell back in my old ways but I’ve got to tell you, I was depressed and I did what I had to do. Had to get up out of bed in the morning and do what I had to do.

Right around that time was when Vitus was heavy touring, the brand new Vitus record, I did the Adrift record, I did the Shrinebuilder record, I did the Premonition 13 record. So basically I did what I had to do to be able to get on with my life and my career. So after a while, I must say, with Saint Vitus, to get into that stuff and to get into that mode and do that stuff, I had to be pretty loaded. I mean, it was like a requirement for me. The music is so primitive and so primal, especially playing live I had to really get into that state of mind to do it and that state of mind to me and in those days meant about 20 beers and half a fifth of liquor and as much shit as I could cram up my nose, but you know, that was the singing in Saint Vitus so things were a bit different.

Nobody can live that way forever. It caught up to me in Norway and I did get deported and that was kind of a bummer for me. I didn’t end up taking any charges, but it’s still kind of a bummer now I have to pay out the ass for visas and I have this ban from the Schengen countries, which is sort of like the EU, for five years, so I’ve already had three of that. So basically you pay the price. So I had to grab the reigns and I did. Now you know I’m back on the bandwagon, back in my head, living a sober lifestyle.

How has it been working in The Obsessed in that mode?

It’s fantastic, I just feel like all my focus and energy is in the right place, everything is where I feel it need to be. I’ve always been interested in alternative spirituality, if you will. I’ve never been into any organized religion or the denominational trip, but I consider myself to be pretty bright. I always want to learn and I always need to learn but I think that I try to awaken to the situation of the reality.

My personal spirituality has always been one of my main focuses and I’m just continuing my research, as I put it, and I’m just focusing on playing it right and I’m not one to blow my own horn but I do think I’m playing at the top of my game right now and I think that we have an absolute killer chemistry between the three of us and I thought, “man, this all I’m doing.” I’m playing the acoustic guitar here and there, wherever the listening party is, and at some point, I will do something else with Conny because I love Conny and we [need another record and tour] but right now The Obsessed is all I want to do. It’s where my focus is right now.

Can you tell me about going from touring a reunion band with The Obsessed as opposed to taking it on as a creative project again? You did that big tour last year with Karma to Burn, but how has it been moving from a reunion, to a working band, to a creative project?

I think it’s been refreshing and rewarding, actually because we get to go on tour. We were with Dave and there were some issues there. I mean listen, Dave’s loyalty and his heart never in question, he’s a great guy, so basically I don’t want to insult him and put him down in any way. He’s a great guy. I feel now that the record is coming out and it’s an incredibly strong record, it’s getting amazing reviews so far and I’m very happy.

We’ve already got three new songs we’re working on and we’re going to go back in the studio with our same guy from Sacred, Frank Marchand. We have three songs now. Hopefully by the end of the tour we have another two, and we’ll be halfway to another record. Whether we can have it finished, I doubt it, but we can at least get a couple in the can. So I feel completely energized, reinspired, and we’re getting it on, man. This is what we do, 24/seven. This is what I enjoy doing. When I’m in the studio, that is my perfect embodiment, that is when I am the most happy, and so yes, I’m just looking ahead.

Can you talk a little more about your time in the studio for this record? Working with Frank?

Frank is an amazing guy. He had to set up a little unconventionally, his room where he recorded wasn’t a control room. It was an open area. He likes to listen loud. He likes to mix loud but I’m telling you it was an orgy of vintage equipment. He’s got at least 10 [stacks] of different size and variety, mixed models.

What about the diversity on the album? It covers a lot of ground.

…For example, “Stranger Things,” when Reid was listening to the record, he goes, “ok, that song really put the ‘what the fuck?’ nail in the coffin.” That song threw him for a loop. It’s not that he disliked that song, but he just thought it was really, really different. That song was an acoustic song. I woke up one morning like, “fuck, what am I trying to even put it in a box like that? Why am I trying to make the specifics,” because The Obsessed has always been about diversity. We cut our teeth in the early days playing with punk rock bands. We can play super-fast, and we also like really slow stuff. A good example is the fact that of course I’m a diehard Black Sabbath fan but I’m also – I love Joy Division. I love The Stooges, The Dictators.

One of my favorite records is Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing by Discharge. So our tastes and our influences were always very diverse but we grew up in an era where it was all about energy. It was all about passion with the punk rock thing and also with the hard rock we listened to. I think that’s what’s really – always – you are a product of your influences, obviously just the same depending on your youth and childhood and really how wounded you are (laughs) in the rest of your life. It’s the same kind of theory.

I think the diversity is what makes it interesting because if I listen to a record where every song sounds the same even though it might be a good record, but every song sounds the same! I’m happy to bring a little diversity to it. I’m happy to people to kind of be like, “woah! This is weird or interesting.” I just think it makes it more interesting and it’s actually very natural, the way it came out.

It’s a pretty personal record. Especially the song for my kids, that’s a very personal song. But man, hey, my life is an open book and my theory or my philosophy if you will is, man, it’s all about passion, but it’s all about the power of the song. The song might need a guitar solo. It’s really about the power of the song.

The same way when you listen to the radio or you’re in a bar and an old song comes back again, one of your favorite songs from whenever it was, it has a way of invoking those good memories. Bringing back a feeling or maybe even remember the day when you listened to that song when you had memorable events like that. It’s really about the power of the song and it’s about the passion.

I really believe that I was given a gift in this earthly trip and I believe that it’s sort of my duty or job to carry the torch man, and to enrich other people’s lives and mine as well. It’s more rewarding having someone say, “hey, your music touched me in a way that was special,” or maybe even, “your music saved my life.” I’ve heard that before. To me that’s way more rewarding than a bag of gold on the table.

What’s next? The tour in May and then back in the studio. Then what?

The tour in April/May and then we will be in the studio recording some new material. Then we are going to be going to the UK including Scotland and Ireland. Then we’re going to be going to South America and Australia. By that time, man, it should be time to go back to Europe. We plan on touring pretty hard for the next couple of years. And also, in between then we’ll be writing another record.

When do you think you’ll squeeze in Conny Ochs?

Me and Conny have been talking and when there’s a break in the action, a break in The Obsessed action, for whatever reason that might be, then Conny said he’d like to come out and play the US and more than likely we’ll do a short tour out here.

One last thing, off topic. There was talk a while ago about a project with Nick Oliveri. What happened with that?

Actually it was me, Nick and Joey [Castillo], but Joey was really busy at the time. He was on retainer with Scott Weiland at the time and even though we tried to put it together he was just too busy. Joey‘s had a little run up, he’s I mean some bad luck, but we might revisit that. But right now I’m focusing on The Obsessed. They’re both amazing people and amazing players and it was something that like, it came up, we wanted to do it but Joey was pretty busy. In the future.

The Obsessed, “Sacred” official video

The Obsessed on Thee Facebooks

Sacred at Relapse Records

The Obsessed on Bandcamp

Relapse Records website

Relapse Records on Bandcamp

Relapse Records on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records on Twitter

Tags: , , , , ,

The Obsessed, Sacred: Through the Razor Wire

Posted in Reviews on April 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obsessed sacred

It’s been 23 years since the last time The Obsessed released a studio full-length, and the confluence of events leading to the arrival via Relapse Records of Sacred is duly headspinning. Even if we start five years ago with the Scott “Wino” Weinrich-fronted trio’s first reunion show at Roadburn 2012 (review here), the next few years would see lineup changes, bands coming and going, and more. After Weinrich‘s parting ways with Saint Vitus, the revitalization of the three-piece Spirit Caravan with the original rhythm section of bassist Dave Sherman (see also: Earthride) and Gary Isom didn’t last, as Isom was traded out, first for Henry Vasquez, then for Ed Gulli (a veteran of The Obsessed) and finally for Brian Costantino. This version of Spirit Caravan toured and was set to begin work on a new record — they performed “Be the Night,” which features on Sacred and was a preview track, as a regular part of live sets — before Weinrich announced a banner change.

What was Spirit Caravan was now The Obsessed, and with the lineup of Weinrich, Sherman and Costantino, they entered the studio with Frank “The Punisher” Marchand to record the awaited follow-up to 1994’s The Church Within. Following the recording of the 57-minute/14-track behemoth from this most quintessential of Maryland doom outfits, whose impact on that style is second to none perhaps save Pentagram (and that’s a maybe) and of course Black Sabbath, more lineup changes brought in Bruce Falkinburg (a former Weinrich bandmate in The Hidden Hand) on bass and Sara Serphim on guitar for a short-lived four-piece incarnation, and the actual release of Sacred finds The Obsessed retooled once more, with Weinrich on guitar/vocals, Costantino on drums and Reid Raley (Rwake), with whom the band had played live shows more or less all along, stepping in as the full-time bassist.

Somehow it’s fitting that in the midst of all the flux, of the near-constant swirl of change that has surrounded Weinrich for the bulk of his career — one album to the next, one band to the next — The Obsessed should reemerge with Sacred as a defining document of what’s made them such a landmark act in the first place. Sacred is far and away the most diverse record The Obsessed have ever done, from the rush of “Punk Crusher” and “Be the Night” to Weinrich and Sherman trading vocal lines — and sounding like they’re having a blast doing it, no less — in “It’s Only Money” to the languid nine-minute bluesy solo flow of “On So Long” and the organ-laced finish in “Crossroader Blues,” it’s an album nonetheless united by inimitable tone and by its underlying qualities of performance and craftsmanship, and while opener “Sodden Jackal” willfully hearkens back to the impact The Obsessed had in shaping what we think of as “traditional doom,” there’s just as much about Sacred that is unflinchingly forward-thinking and that refuses to compromise that vision.

With the strength of hooks in “Haywire,” “Stranger Things,” “Razor Wire” and “Be the Night,” the band provides a steady stream of landmarks throughout to keep listeners oriented as they present turns like “It’s Only Money,” the instrumental “Cold Blood” and toy with faster and slower tempo shifts across “Punk Crusher,” the title-track, “Haywire” and “Perseverance” early and “Razor Wire,” the heartfelt “My Daughter My Son” and “Be the Night” late — and that’s before the already-noted “On So Long” and “Crossroader Blues” at the end of the album — and as far as The Obsessed push sound-wise, they never lose the central identity created by the outright heft in the guitar and bass, yes, but in the emotion and execution of the material as well.

the obsessed photo susie costantino

The confusion in “Haywire” feels genuine, as does the downer stomp of “Perseverance” (organ doesn’t hurt that atmosphere either), and the upbeat classic heavy rock of “It’s Only Money” offers a moment of (gasp!) actual fun when Weinrich and Sherman come together to yell, “stick ’em up!,” and while “Stranger Things” is something of a structural masterpiece to represent the work as a whole at its best, all-thrust pieces like “Be the Night” and “Razor Wire” offer a blistering appeal of their own. On paper, Sacred might feel like a work of multiple personalities, but on a front to back listen, they absolutely carry it. They make it flow.

Part of that comes down to Wino himself, and I’ll make no bones about being a fan of his work or of Sherman‘s. The guitarist makes the primary impression as frontman — The Obsessed, which as a band dates back to 1979, and across its first three records, 1985/1990’s self-titled, 1991’s Lunar Womb and 1994’s The Church Within, established itself as the original “Wino band” — but the collaboration between Wino and Sherman here is essential in giving Sacred its personality and its depth. To undersell that aspect of it would be disingenuous.

That’s a relationship that was born in the mid-’90s as Shine, which became Spirit Caravan, and like other key creative partners with whom Weinrich has worked over the years, for example guitarist Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus or the aforementioned Bruce Falkinburg in The Hidden Hand, the Wino/Sherman pairing may be one in which personalities contrast, but the work produced is that much broader and more realized, perhaps in part because of that. On that level, Sacred is almost bittersweet, because while even down to its sheer length it speaks to a highly productive writing experience — in the age of reborn LP length, one does not release an hour’s worth of material if one doesn’t have something to say — it also marks the end of the partnership that was such a major factor in its making.

At least for now. One would be a fool to try to predict what the future might hold for Weinrich or The Obsessed — and kudos to whoever in 1994 said, “I bet they do another record in 2017” — but if this is the band with which he’s going to continue writing and touring for the time being, then “this” is already a band that has changed in a crucial way that will affect any future output. Now, even talking about a “next record” from a band who just put together their first in nearly a quarter-century seems utterly ridiculous, but the point is that Sacred, true to its title, captures a moment that isn’t likely to come again anytime soon. It successfully revives and expands the palette of one of American doom’s most influential acts, and it comes across as a genuine representation of the personalities, or at least the personae, of those who made it. The next few years will continue to tell The Obsessed‘s story and these songs’ ultimate place therein, but there’s little doubt that for many, Sacred will rank among the top albums of 2017, and I have no argument against its consideration as such.

The Obsessed, “Punk Crusher”

The Obsessed on Thee Facebooks

Sacred at Relapse Records

The Obsessed on Bandcamp

Relapse Records website

Relapse Records on Bandcamp

Relapse Records on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records on Twitter

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Spirit Caravan, Dreamwheel

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Spirit Caravan, Dreamwheel EP (1999)

To my ears, Spirit Caravan is the blues, plain and simple. Like the best of the classic blues, it could be, but didn’t always have to be dark or depressing or aggressive in order to be heavy or to convey a sense of weight. It’s been a couple years at this point, so if you don’t remember, you’re certainly forgiven, but I used to run a regular weekly feature around here called Wino Wednesday. I quite literally did 200 of them. And yes, Spirit Caravan‘s 1999 Dreamwheel EP (on MeteorCity) was discussed as part of that series, but as we move toward Springtime, it’s hard for me not to go back to this band and this short release in particular, precisely because it’s that combination of hopeful and heavy that’s so rare, not only in the canon of Scott “Wino” Weinrich, but in the wider sphere of heavy as a whole. And where there is happy heavy, it’s almost never done so well or to such a degree of each as it felt natural for Spirit Caravan to represent. They hit the balance just right.

And yeah, I could have closed out the week (and probably will at some point close out a week) with Spirit Caravan‘s landmark 1999 debut, Jug Fulla Sun (discussed here), or that record’s 2001 follow-up, Elusive Truth, or even their 2003 swansong compilation The Last Embrace, but Dreamwheel has a special feel about it. I won’t take anything away from Jug Fulla Sun, and if we’re picking favorite Spirit Caravan records, that’s my pick, but for the fact that Dreamwheel clocks in at under 20 minutes long, has five easy-rolling tracks, and asks nothing more of its audience than a bit of nod, I just feel like it’s the sonic equivalent of an unexpected compliment. Right? Like someone coming up to you and saying something nice out of the blue. “Oh, here’s Dreamwheel,” and instantly your day is better. I don’t know a lot of releases, full-length, EP, or otherwise, that can pull that off in the kind of lasting way that Dreamwheel does, beginning with the six-minute opening title-track’s examination of spirituality, bouncing groove, aliens or who knows what else is going on in there. I won’t profess to, but it rounds out with the line, “You’ve got to dream and keep on rollin’,” and as rock and roll sentiments go, that’s a tough one to beat. As happens with a lot of short releases (and albums, for that matter), Dreamwheel becomes in large part defined by its titular cut. Not only is “Dreamwheel” the longest inclusion (plus opener equals immediate points), but the tone it sets plays into the following “Burnin’ In,” the cymbal-abrasion-into-guitar-led-scorch of “Re-Alignment / Higher Power,” and into the closing pair of “Sun Stoned” and “C, Yourself” as well.

Through it all, Wino, bassist/backing vocalist Dave Sherman (who’d shortly move on to his first release with Earthride) and drummer Gary Isom showed with no small thanks to the Chris Kozlowski recording job their utter mastery of that righteous, potent brew that was their own and that has never been anyone else’s, even among other “Wino bands,” whether that’s The ObsessedThe Hidden HandWino (actually, the shortlived Wino band came closest), Premonition 13 or whoever. All at the same time, it’s a sound that’s classic in its construction and influence, modern in its presentation, natural in tone, laid back, heavy, consuming but accessible, at once of Maryland doom tradition and working in defiance of it. That scene — and please don’t take this as a slight against Maryland doom, which if you read this site, ever, you know I hold dear — has never produced another band like Spirit Caravan, and Spirit Caravan only made one Dreamwheel EP.

It’s a moment in time that never came again. As they moved on to Elusive Truth in 2001, their sound took on a doomier feel, and in 2002, Spirit Caravan would call it a day as Sherman went on to focus on EarthrideWino joined Place of Skulls for a time and launched The Hidden Hand, whose debut, Divine Propaganda, arrived in 2003, and Isom floated between a host of acts, among them NitroseedValkyrieUnorthodox and Pentagram. Of course the band got back together, first with the original lineup, and then not, in 2014 and played live shows and started to work on new material, but would disintegrate again as that reunion transitioned into one for The Obsessed, whose new LP, Sacred, is out next week on Relapse Records with a recording lineup of WinoSherman and drummer Brian Costantino, who had replaced Isom in Spirit Caravan‘s final to-date incarnation.

Got all that? Bottom line is Dreamwheel, while short, is a record of which it’s worth basking in every minute. There is no moment on it that does not satisfy or does not enrich the listener, and I hope that as you make your way through it, you have the experience I referred to above, and you come out of it feeling better than you did going in. Think of it as my way of saying something nice.

Even if you don’t get there, as always, I hope you enjoy.

I took today off work. One doesn’t want to oversell it by calling it the best decision I’ve ever made, but it certainly is glorious. Don’t get me wrong, most days, I don’t hate my job. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. But as I roll steadily into middle age — I’m 36 in October — I realize more and more that office life, working for someone else, corporate or small company, isn’t what I want to be doing with my days.

As a kid, I watched my father sweat and travel and stress for a series of jobs he hated because he felt like it was what he needed to do to support his family. He wanted to die. Literally. For years. Part of that is chemical, as I know from my own experience, but as I sit in my kitchen on this morning off and watch the sun come up across my backyard, I know that while on some levels he was right — my family wouldn’t have gotten by in the same way on my mom’s public school teacher’s salary — there’s another kind of value at play as well, and that’s the value of making your existence bearable. Because when you’re miserable like that, it bleeds into everyone around you. I know this.

So yeah, I don’t want to work anymore. Not in an office. Not full-time. It might take me years to make something else happen, but that change is something I need to do to make my life what I want it to be, because I’ll tell you, right now I have the greatest job I’ve ever had and probably the greatest job I’ll ever have and there are still plenty of days in the week where I wake up dreading going to it. The commute, the air, the loud people, the commute back. All of it. It’s just not where I want to be. I don’t even feel like a person some days. I counted minutes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and yesterday to get to this morning.

And I know we need money even though we’re broke no matter how much we bring in, but I also feel like I owe it to The Patient Mrs. not to be so god damn wretched all the time. That’s where my head is at.

Appreciating the day, then, and trying to make it as weekend-y as possible. I’ve got my huge YOB shirt on (I call it “my weekend YOB shirt,” and rest assured, I’ll be wearing it until Monday) and my lined pajamas and my warm socks (those I’ll change), and I’m listening to the new Siena Root for the first time and sipping my coffee. The dog’s in her bed in the corner and life is good and restorative, and moments like this are what it’s about. In a while The Patient Mrs. will come downstairs and have breakfast and I’ll make another pot and put some protein powder in one of the cups, and we’ll talk about the day to come. It’s going to be a good one. I can feel it already.

We’re heading into April; deeper into 2017. I hope you’re doing well.

Thanks if you got to check out any of the Quarterly Review this week. That means a lot to me, and I appreciate it when people can put eyes to things like that. I know 50 reviews is a lot to keep up with — believe me — but if you found something you dig, that’s awesome.

Next week is slammed as well as of now. Here’s what’s on tap, subject to change as always:

Mon.: Closet Disco Queen review/EP stream and Elder Druid video.
Tue.: Lord Loud review/premiere, Greenbeard video premiere.
Wed.: Ides of Gemini Six Dumb Questions, The Obsessed review, maybe Cultura Tres video.
Thu.: Arc of Ascent review/track premiere, Beastwars video (NZ day!)
Fri.: Electric Moon review, other stuff.

Truth be told, I’ve got reviews and premieres planned through the better part of April already. I know what I’ll be doing every day between now and Roadburn, and there’s some stuff locked in already for May and more to come, so yeah. Plenty going on. Things are getting full earlier, which is validating in a way, but as I finish one Quarterly Review I’ve already started to think about the next, and there are times where it’s overwhelming. Mostly Tuesdays, oddly. Tuesday’s always my roughest day.

A note about The Obelisk Radio: We’ve been running on the backup server for the last several weeks since the hard drive crashed. I bought a new drive — it’s 4TB, so eventually there will be even more space to work with — and Slevin is in the process of switching everything over, but it’s taking a really long time because the old busted drive apparently has a shit-ton of bad data. Turns out maybe running it 24 hours a day/seven days a week took a toll in some way? Crazy, I know. In any case, it’s still going to be a while. I have another round of radio adds slated for April 10 and I’m not sure if we’ll be back on the full playlist by then, but it’s a work in progress and if you listen regularly, I appreciate your patience with it.

Alright. Can’t imagine I haven’t gone on long enough. If you’re still reading this, thanks.

I hope you have or have had a wonderful day, depending I suppose on your time zone, and that you enjoy a great and safe weekend. See you back here on Monday for more, and in the meantime please check out the forum, the (backup) radio stream, and the new The Obelisk page on Thee Facebooks.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , ,

The Obsessed Announce Tour Dates with Karma to Burn, Fatso Jetson & Lo-Pan

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obsessed

The Obsessed have announced a massive round of tour dates for April and May to support their first album in more than 20 years, Sacred, which is out April 7 on Relapse Records. Direct support on the run will come from Karma to Burn (with whom The Obsessed also toured last year), and Fatso Jetson and Lo-Pan will trade off for the West Coast and East Coast portions, respectively. In addition, a record release party will be held in Philly on April 8 at Kung Fu Necktie, at which The Obsessed legendary founding guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich will perform acoustic.

By way of a spoiler, I interviewed Wino yesterday about the new album — which rules — and he’s stoked to take it on the road. More to come on that as soon as I get the conversation transcribed.

Meantime, without further ado here are the dates from the PR wire:

THE OBSESSED TOUR

THE OBSESSED Announce Headlining US Tour Dates

Maryland doom legends THE OBSESSED have announced a full US tour in support of the forthcoming album Sacred. The tour commences on April 12th in Pittsburgh, PA and runs through May 20th in Baltimore, MD. Karma To Burn will provide direct support on all dates while Fatso Jetson (April 17 – May 1) and Lo-Pan (May 3 – May 20) will provide additional support on select dates. THE OBSESSED will also join Weedeater and label-mates Primitive Man on five West Coast shows during the run (April 27 – May 1). All confirmed tour dates below.

Additionally, THE OBSESSED will hold a record release show for Sacred on April 8th at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia, PA. The band will also perform at this year’s Berserker Fest IV in Detroit, Michigan the weekend of April 14-15. Stay tuned for further tour announcements in the future!

April 7, 2017 will see the worldwide release of Sacred via Relapse Records on CD/LP/DLX. 2xLP/Digital. Physical pre-order and bundles are available via Relapse.com HERE and digital downloads can be pre-ordered by Bandcamp AT THIS LOCATION. The Deluxe 2xLP bundle includes an enamel logo pin, signed art print and two bonus tracks!

With renewed energy and purpose, THE OBSESSED sounds heavier and more relevant than ever before. On Sacred, the band doubles down on enormous, heaving riffs and pummeling low-end across 12 tracks of eternal doom. Rounded out by Wino’s lyrical honesty and iconic throaty vocals, Sacred is an album that further pushes THE OBSESSED into the annals of heavy metal history, well worth the two-plus decade wait. The band will perform once again as three piece featuring Wino, Reid Raley and Brian Costantino.

THE OBSESSED Tour Dates:
Apr 08 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie *Record Release Party/Acoustic Wino Set*
— All Dates Apr 12 – May 20 With Karma To Burn —
Apr 12 Pittsburgh, PA Cattive
Apr 14 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
Apr 15 Pontiac, MI Berserker IV (The Crofoot) &
Apr 17 Indianapolis, IN 5th Quarter +
Apr 18 Kansas City, MO Riot Room +
Apr 19 Chicago, IL Bottom Lounge +
Apr 20 St. Louis, MO Fubar +
Apr 21 Rock Island, IL Rock Island Brewing Co. +
Apr 23 Denver, CO Hi-Dive +
Apr 24 Salt Lake City, UT Metro Music Hall +
Apr 25 Boise, ID Neurolux +
Apr 26 Bellingham, WA Shakedown +
Apr 27 Seattle, WA Highline ** +
Apr 28 Portland, OR Star Theater ** +
Apr 29 Sacramento, CA Starlite ** +
Apr 30 San Francisco, CA DNA Lounge ** +
May 01 Los Angeles, CA Regent Theater ** +
May 02 Mesa, AZ Club Red
May 03 Albuquerque, NM Launchpad #
May 04 Dallas, TX Three Links #
May 05 Austin, TX Grizzly Hall #
May 07 San Antonio, TX Korova #
May 08 New Orleans, LA Siberia #
May 09 Savannah, GA The Jinx #
May 10 Johnson City, TN Hideaway #
May 11 Atlanta, GA EARL #
May 12 Miami, FL Gramps #
May 13 Spartanburg, SC Ground Zero #
May 14 Raleigh, NC Pour House #
May 16 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie #
May 17 Boston, MA ONCE Ballroom #
May 18 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus #
May 19 New Hanover, CT The Ballroom at Outer Space #
May 20 Baltimore, MD Otto Bar #

& No Karma To Burn
** W/ Weedeater + Primitive Man
+ W/ Fatso Jetson
# W/ Lo-Pan

https://www.facebook.com/TheObsessedOfficial
http://relapse.com/the-obsessed-sacred/
https://theobsessed.bandcamp.com/
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords
http://www.twitter.com/RelapseRecords

The Obsessed, “Punk Crusher”

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Obsessed Announce April 7 Release for Sacred; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Been waiting for news on this one. The first album from The Obsessed in 23 years, Sacred, will be out April 7 on Relapse Records. They have a new song streaming now that you can hear below. It’s called “Razor Wire,” and though the lineup of the band that crafted it is already defunct, founding guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich having assembled a four-piece incarnation of the group that may or may not still be active — you’ll note a lineup mentioned below with Reid Raley of Rwake as well as that four-piece version; I’m not going to pretend to know which is current, if not both — one can hear the renewed vitality of The Obsessed in the track. It sounds fantastic, to be blunt about it, and I can only look forward to hearing more when the time comes. April 7. Calendar is marked.

Just in from the PR wire:

the obsessed sacred

THE OBSESSED Announces New Album Sacred; Band Premieres “Razor Wire”

Sacred coming April 7th via Relapse Records

Maryland doom legends THE OBSESSED will unleash Sacred, the band’s first studio album in over twenty years, this April via Relapse Records.

Guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich comments on the new album: “I can honestly say, I think this is the best sounding recording of my career, and I am excited to release it on Relapse. This song ‘Razor Wire,’ I have been carrying around the title concept and main riff in my pocket for a couple years. The full song was born after applying real life experiences, with a little wishful thinking! Fuck control.”

April 7th, 2017 will see the worldwide release of Sacred via Relapse Records on CD, LP, deluxe double LP, and digital formats. Physical preorders and bundles are available via Relapse.com HERE and digital downloads can be preordered by Bandcamp at THIS LOCATION. The deluxe 2xLP bundle includes an enamel logo pin, signed art print, and two bonus tracks.

With renewed energy and purpose, THE OBSESSED sounds heavier and more relevant than ever before. On Sacred, the band doubles down on enormous, heaving riffs and pummeling low-end across twelve tracks of eternal doom. Rounded out by Wino’s lyrical honesty and iconic throaty vocals, Sacred is an album that further pushes THE OBSESSED into the annals of heavy metal history, well worth the two-plus decade wait. The band will perform once again as a three-piece featuring Wino, Reid Raley, and Brian Costantino.

Sacred Track Listing:
1. Sodden Jackal
2. Punk Crusher
3. Sacred
4. Haywire
5. Perseverance Of Futility
6. It’s Only Money
7. Cold Blood
8. Stranger Things
9. Razor Wire
10. My Daughter My Son
11. Be The Night
12. Interlude
13. On So Long (Bonus)
14. Crossroader Blues (Bonus)

Additionally, THE OBSESSED will perform at this year’s Berserker Fest IV in Detroit, Michigan the weekend of April 14th-15th. Stay tuned for further tour announcements in the future.

THE OBSESSED:
4/14-15/2017 Berserker Fest IV – Detroit, MI w/ GWAR, Eyehategod, OFF!, Weedeater, Brain Tentacles, more

Wino announced the full-time return of THE OBSESSED in March 2016 and the band’s official signing to Relapse Records to record the follow up to The Church Within. The new lineup originally consisted of Spirit Caravan bassist Dave Sherman and Wino’s longtime friend and former road crew member. drummer Brian Costantino. On October 31st, 2016, Wino announced the lineup for THE OBSESSED, included bassist Bruce Falkinburg and guitarist Seraphim, making that the first time the band had been a four piece in over thirty-five years. Now in 2017, THE OBSESSED will unleash Sacred, the band’s first studio album in over two decades.

http://www.facebook.com/TheObsessedOfficial
http://relapse.com/the-obsessed-sacred/
https://theobsessed.bandcamp.com/
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords
http://www.twitter.com/RelapseRecords

The Obsessed, “Razor Wire”

Tags: , , , ,

Dee Calhoun to Record Second Solo Album this Winter

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I’ll admit I had to look up which Klingon it was that Captain Kirk told to ‘go to the devil.’ It was Kang. As I recall it was a censorship thing, because in 1968, when that episode of the original Star Trek aired, you couldn’t tell someone to go to hell on network television. I don’t know if Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun had Trek specifically in mind when he picked Go to the Devil as the working title of his soon-to-be-recorded second solo full-length, but it was certainly where my brain went in terms of the reference. Not everyone will have the same response, I suppose.

Whatever it’s ultimately called, Calhoun‘s sophomore outing, which as noted below will also feature Iron Man bassist Louis Strachan, will arrive at a quick turnaround from last year’s Rotgut (review here). That record was among 2016’s best debuts, so it’s only fair to say the follow-up will arrive with some anticipation behind it. After seeing the two perform together at Maryland Doom Fest last year (review here), I’ll look forward to hearing what Strachan brings to the studio material as well.

I could go on. Here’s the news:

dee calhoun

DEE CALHOUN announces second solo album; to include Louis Strachan (Iron Man)

Argonauta Records is happy to announce that Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun will soon begin production on his sophomore solo album, the follow-up to 2016’s “Rotgut.” Recording will commence in late winter, mostly at Dee’s home studio The Dustbuster.

“The response to ‘Rotgut’ was so amazing, much more than I had ever hoped for,” Dee said. “People identified with the album’s honest simplicity, the honest messages within each song. Those good vibes kept the creativity flowing, and this follow-up will be the result.”

On this album, tentatively titled “Go to the Devil,” Dee will be joined by his Iron Man bandmate Louis Strachan, who will be handling bass guitar duties. “Lou is such a positive force, and has been such a great addition to live shows, it is a no-brainer to have him play on this CD” Dee said. “The material will still have the raw, stripped-down feel that the songs on ‘Rotgut’ had, only with the addition of those great, bouncy bass lines underneath.” Dee also indicates that the album’s themes will continue to follow his “I write what I feel” approach, mixed in with some storytelling elements.

“Go to the Devil” (again, the tentative title) is targeted for a late 2017 release.

http://www.screamingmaddee.com/
https://www.facebook.com/dee.calhoun.7
http://www.argonautarecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/

Dee Calhoun, “Rotgut” official video

Tags: , , , , , ,