Spiral Grave Post “The Death of Ronnie M.” Video; Ill Repute Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Kind of a lower-key album announcement happening here as Maryland doom standard-bearers Spiral Grave unveil a video for “The Death of Ronnie M.” — as opposed to the death of Ronnie J. D., which I’m still not over — and send first word of the impending Ill Repute as a follow-up to the four-piece’s Argonauta-backed 2021 debut, Legacy of the Anointed (review here). That release was both proof-of-concept and a statement of intent for the band that pulled together vocalist “Screaming Mad Dee” Calhoun, bassist Louis “Iron Lou” Strachan and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann from the final incarnation of Iron Man and teamed them with guitarist Willy Rivera, formerly of the wildly underrated (and just plain wild) sludge metal experimentalists Lord. No solid date yet for Ill Repute, but ‘2024’ is easy enough to believe.

I don’t know if Ronnie M.’s is a true case of child abuse and you’ll pardon me if I skip Googling it to find out. In any case, Calhoun (a published author multiple times over) is no stranger to narrative in songwriting between Spiral Grave and his solo work, and “The Death of Ronnie M.” hits sharp with intensity in its low-end-shove midsection to coincide with the traditional metal reach of the vocals, and it’s plain to hear the band are pushing themselves. I haven’t heard Ill Repute or anything, and I can’t even play clever and drop some hint as to when it’ll be out, but a new track isn’t nothing to go on in advance of a familiar ‘more to come’ as they ramp up for the release.

Gets in, lands hard, gets out. Makes it easy to look forward to the record:

spiral grave

SPIRAL GRAVE, the US doom metal band consisting of members from Iron Man and Lord, has released a new official music video for ‘The Death of Ronnie M.’.

The first single from Ill Repute, “The Death of Ronnie M,” is quite simply about murdering a pedophile. The live footage from the video was shot at Another Round in Richmond VA on September 30, 2023.

Spiral Grave formed in late 2018 following the demise of two legendary mid-Atlantic bands, Iron Man and Lord. The band quickly hit the live circuit and recorded their debut album, Legacy of the Anointed (release delayed until 2021 due to COVID). Since that album’s release Spiral Grave has continued to tour, playing live dates and festivals in and around their home area of MD/VA, going as far west as Texas. In addition, the band has recorded their sophomore effort Ill Repute, which is scheduled for a 2024 release from Argonauta Records.

Screaming Mad Dee – voice
Willy Rivera – guitar
Louis Strachan – bass
Jason “Mot” Waldmann – drums



Spiral Grave, “The Death of Ronnie M.” official video

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Album Review: The Obsessed, Gilded Sorrow

Posted in Reviews on February 20th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

the obsessed gilded sorrow

The Obsessed stand tall as the longest tenured band led by guitarist and vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, and with Gilded Sorrow — their fifth full-length since 1990, first in seven years, first for Ripple Music, and first as a four-piece — they envision an update of a sound that can only be considered classic. Weinrich, who first brought The Obsessed back to appear at Roadburn 2012 (review here) after fronting a Saint Vitus reunion there in 2009. The path even just across the last 12 years has been winding, never mind that The Obsessed have been active intermittently since circa 1979 as Weinrich has evolved other projects and collaborations like Shine/Spirit CaravanThe Hidden HandPremonition 13, Shrinebuilder, Probot, and established himself as a solo performer. Weaving through an initial incarnation as Spirit CaravanThe Obsessed came into focus again in 2016, just in time to play Maryland Doom Fest, with drummer Brian Costantino holding position as one band rebranded as the other and The Obsessed set forth on a years-long course of touring around their comeback LP, Sacred (review here), issued by Relapse some 23 years after 1994’s The Church Within, which for a long time was their swansong.

It is in part with the memory of that, thinking of The Obsessed as a band who were gone, that Gilded Sorrow comes across as so vital. While it’s fair to say their sound has always been straightforward, punch-you-in-the-face, on-groove, riff-driven heavy, that pioneering doom rock feels fresh through its nine songs and 36 minutes, with Weinrich‘s riffing and soloing complemented by the guitar of Jason Taylor (Sierra), who joined in 2022 along with bassist Chris Angleberger — more trivia than anything, but Costantino joins Greg Rogers as the only drummer to feature on successive The Obsessed records — such that as the howling echoes of tone give over to the chugging riff of “Daughter of an Echo” that begins the record in earnest, there’s already a depth of atmosphere that is new to the band. In addition to this semi-revamped dynamic — if you’ve never seen him on stage, Taylor is no minor player, and the work he does here feels more substantial than a phrase like ‘second guitar’ or ‘rhythm guitar’ can really convey; his sound is part of the personality of these songs — “Daughter of an Echo” rolls with a rhythmic tension in its snare pops and twisting nod that emphasizes the seething sensibility that’s always been at the band’s core. That’s evident in a particularly up-front vocal from Weinrich as well, with the production of Frank Marchand capturing performances that feel raw and vital but want nothing for clarity.

“Daughter of an Echo” does crucial work in laying out the course of Gilded Sorrow, but it doesn’t necessarily encapsulate the entire album. “It’s Not OK,” which follows directly, does not shy away from physical threat in lyrics that make a hook of the chorus, “It’s not okay/To rip me off/Got your hand in my pocket on the sly/It’s not okay to say that you forgot/Stick a needle in your eye,” reserving the second verse for railing against journalists, “afraid to look me in the eye,” who nonetheless criticize Weinrich‘s outspoken political views; the line “you fucked up” is layered to underline the point. That initial salvo rounds out with uptempo redirect “Realize a Dream,” which offers due push, vocal reach, and a vibe in its open verse that touches on some of what was in Spirit Caravan‘s jug before “Gilded Sorrow” arrives to cap side A with a shift in focus toward atmosphere, a stately tempo and a structural course that feels purposeful in its contrast with its surroundings and justifies itself as the title-track in offering a new take on The Obsessed‘s genre-setting downer march. An effects treatment on Weinrich‘s voice gives a watery presence adjacent to psych but not really tipped over into it in the first half, while the last two minutes of the total 5:34 are dedicated to a slow, ambient instrumental devolution kept active around rumble, feedback, and distant shred, by Costantino‘s punctuating drums as it builds back in volume and foreboding one last time.

The Obsessed 6 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Positioned at the outset of side B, “Stoned Back to the Bomb Age” is the actual centerpiece, with an antiwar standpoint framed through governmental exploitation (fair enough) and a roll that meets “Gilded Sorrow” head on, leaving it to the first 36 seconds of “Wellspring/Dark Sunshine,” which follows, to reset the ambience before a snap of snare brings hard reality manifest in heavy riffs. Less verse/chorus than “It’s Not OK” or “Realize a Dream,” with bluesy swagger in its leads and a steamroller of churn that seems to want more volume no matter how much it’s given, “Wellspring/Dark Sunshine” supports the mood of the title-track without necessarily repeating it, pulling in a different direction than “Stoned Back to the Bomb Age” but not so much a contrast as to feel out of place. The subsequent “Jailene” tells a story of drugs, loss and, yes, imprisonment, with the speediest shove since “Realize a Dream,” and perhaps casts addiction as its titular character, feeling more tongue-in-cheek than melancholy or angry. In the end, “Jailene” rips him off, which the album already noted is not okay, but a Thin Lizzy-style verse seems to make everything alright in the end.

Longtime followers might recall “Yen Sleep” as the opener of the 1999 demos/rare tracks compilation Incarnate. Included here on side B before the outro “Lucky Free Nice Machine” wraps Gilded Sorrow with a last 60 seconds of lead-topped nod and march, it is a standout for its older-school crunch and solos that speak to the Lunar Womb era. I won’t claim to know what motivated the band to put “Yen Sleep” on Gilded Sorrow, but it’s a convenient reminder of where The Obsessed come from in terms of doom — i.e., the heart of it — and stripped down in a manner that “Gilded Sorrow,” “Wellspring/Dark Sunshine,” or even its own quick intro aren’t and show no sign of wanting to be. The Obsessed aren’t forgetting their past, but they’re not trying to relive it either, and that combined intent results in a sound that’s full, modern and dense when called for by the material, but able to convey spaciousness around that in new ways. As a generalization, some of it builds on places Sacred went, but with more years of touring ahead of its arrival and the solidification of the current lineup, Gilded Sorrow is a stronger statement of who The Obsessed are than the return-LP inherently could’ve been.

That is to say, if Sacred said The Obsessed were back, Gilded Sorrow is an expansion of who they are as a part of that. It admirably incorporates new ideas into the band’s signature approach and adds to one of American doom’s most essential legacies while refusing to compromise either in sound or the stands its takes lyrically in “It’s Not OK,” “Stoned Back to the Bomb Age,” and so on. I don’t agree with much of the album’s politics, though let’s-have-less-war is a decent common ground to start from, and in the spirit of the album itself I won’t shy away from mentioning it. If that kind of thing is a sticking point for you as a listener — the use of “snowflake” in “It’s Not OK,” or “young AI robots” in “Stoned Back to the Bomb Age,” etc. — then it matters. If not, it doesn’t. In either case, it’s a confrontationalism that’s part of who The Obsessed are at this stage in their career, and it’s been a part of Weinrich‘s persona for decades. What ultimately defines the record is the energy with which its songs, fast or slow, are wrought, and the clever and considered ways The Obsessed build on their history and recast their dynamic with an obvious goal to keep moving forward. If it even needs to be said, Gilded Sorrow is unquestionably among the most essential doom releases 2024 will bring.

The Obsessed, Gilded Sorrow (2024)

The Obsessed on Facebook

The Obsessed on Instagram

The Obsessed on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Facebook

Ripple Music on Instagram

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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The Obsessed Announce US Tour With Gozu and Howling Giant; Gilded Sorrow Out Feb. 16

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

As ever fronted by founding guitarist/vocalist Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich — who makes ready to embark on a stint of solo acoustic shows in Europe even as their announcement arrives — The Obsessed have announced the first US run of headlining touring they’ll undertake to support the Feb. 16 release of their first album in seven years and first with the current lineup, Gilded Sorrow. Joining the doom legends in the endeavor are Boston’s Gozu and Nashville’s Howling Giant, who both issued their own stellar LPs in 2023, be it the former’s Remedy (review here) or the latter’s breakout, Glass Future (review here), which they’ve newly revamped their own lineup to support, adding a second guitarist to play as a four-piece.

The Obsessed, who for most of their decades have been a trio, have also been working with two guitars the last couple years, and it doesn’t seem to have hurt them any. They note below they’re about to put out a new single from Gilded Sorrow later this week, so that’ll be something to look out for, and you can find their comment, what Gozu and Howling Giant also had to say about it, and the dates, below, along with far too many links and videos from all involved parties, cobbled together from hither and yon across various social media outlets and so on. Who the hell doesn’t like a package tour?

Have at it:

the obsessed tour

Says The Obsessed: “Hitting the American highways with our friends Howling Giant and GOZU this March/April. Let’s see y’all out there! We will have our new record, Gilded Sorrow, on the merch table at all these shows. Stay tuned for another new single THIS FRIDAY!!”

Says Gozu: “2024 looking good! Who will we see?”

Says Howling Giant: “Back on the road we go! Very excited to be heading out with The Obsessed and GOZU this March/April. We’ve got James locked and loaded for a set chock full of tunes from Glass Future, we can’t wait to see everyone!”

3/13 Philadelphia, PA – Milk Boy
3/14 Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery
3/15 Richmond, VA – Cobra Cabana
3/16 Wilmington, NC – Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern
3/17 Asheville, NC – The Odd
3/19 Atlanta, GA – Boggs Social & Supply
3/20 New Orleans, LA – Siberia
3/22 Fort Worth, TX – Tulips
3/23 Austin, TX – The Lost Well
3/25 Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
3/26 Mesa, AZ – The Nile Underground
3/27 Los Angeles, CA – Resident
3/28 Palmdale, CA – Transplants Brewing
3/29 San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick
3/30 Las Vegas, NV – The Usual Place
3/31 Salt Lake City, UT – Aces High Saloon
4/1 Denver, CO – Hi-Dive
4/3 Chicago, IL – Reggies
4/4 Lakewood, OH – The Foundry
4/5 New Kensington, PA – Preserving Underground
4/6 Rochester, NY – Montage Music Hall
4/7 Brattleboro, VT – The Stone Church
4/9 Cambridge, MA – Sonia
4/10 Portland, ME – Geno’s Rock Club
4/11 Hamden, CT – Space Ballroom
4/12 Brooklyn, NY – The Meadows

Chris Angleberger – bass and vocals
Jason Taylor – guitar and vocals
Brian Costantino – drums
Scott “Wino” Weinrich – guitar and vocals

GOZU is:
Marc Gaffney – guitar and vocals
Joe Grotto – bass
Doug Sherman – lead guitar
Seth Botos – drums

Howling Giant are:
Tom Polzine – Guitar and Vocals
Zach Wheeler – Drums and Vocals
Sebastian Baltes – Bass and Vocals
James Sanderson – Guitar and Vocals







The Obsessed, “It’s Not OK” live at Freak Valley Festival 2023

Gozu, “Tom Cruise Control” official video

Howling Giant, “Glass Future” official video

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The Obsessed Announce New Album Gilded Sorrow Due in Feb.; Euro Tour Starts Sept. 28

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 15th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Doom legends The Obsessed are getting ready for a return to Europe at the end of this month, where they’ll play Up in Smoke, Demons Gate, Keep it Low, and, of course, Desertfest Belgium, which seems to be the epicenter of this Fall’s touring season on the continent. As they do, they’re also getting ready to start the release cycle for 2024’s Gilded Sorrow, which will be released next Feb. 16 through Ripple Music as the band’s first outing since 2017’s Sacred (review here). They’ve toured hard all the while — well, you know what I mean — and when I saw them this past June at Freak Valley, guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich qu0ted “It’s Not Okay” as the name of the album before playing a song of the same title. These things change sometimes. Gilded Sorrow is pretty doomed, so yeah, that’ll work nicely.

No music yet from the album — nor should there be, it’s five months away — but as noted, they’re already playing new material on the road, and hey, wouldn’t you know it, here’s a bunch of tour dates from the PR wire, previously announced but certainly relevant. Go figure:

the obsessed gilded sorrow

Doom metal godfathers THE OBSESSED to release fifth studio album “Gilded Sorrow” on Ripple Music this February; European tour starts soon!

Iconic US doom and heavy metal veterans THE OBSESSED announce a February 16th, 2024 date for the anticipated release of their fifth studio full-length “Gilded Sorrow” on Ripple Music. The band is ready to embark on a month-long European tour this month, including appearances at Desertfest, Keep It Low, Up In Smoke and Demons Gate festivals.

Scott “Wino” Weinrich is a living legend. In a way, he is the American version of Lemmy and shares many traits with the late, much-beloved metal icon. He’s always been a rebel, loner and an outsider in an outsider scene, pursuing his music without regard for popularity or acceptance. In the process, he came to be considered one of the early pioneers of American doom. All of this began when he founded THE OBSESSED back in the 70s, then pursued through his many other outfits such as Saint Vitus or Spirit Caravan. As a key part of the 80s Washington/Maryland music scene, his music earned the respect of metal, punk and crossover fans alike while often being dubbed doom metal. Looking back, it was just gritty, street-wise American metal with a cynical bent and psychedelic flair, and this is what made him the unique and timeless heavy music icon he is today.

Now THE OBSESSED comes roaring back with their most rocking album of all time “Gilded Sorrow”, to be released on February 16th, 2024 through independent Californian label Ripple Music. Expanded to a 4-piece with the addition of Jason Taylor on guitar, the music is more aggressive, straightforward and downright mean than ever before. Wino comments: “Adding Jason Taylor as second guitarist was one of the best decisions I’ve made because he’s a virtuoso guitar player and I must say he contributed quite a bit of good stuff to this record.” About the new album, he adds: “I think it’s the heaviest thing I’ve ever done. Heavy in a sense as not just sludge heavy, but well-rounded. And it sounds fantastic. Everything I do with Frank Marchand gets better and better. He knows what the fuck he’s doing.”

“Gilded Sorrow” will be available in various limited vinyl editions, classic vinyl, CD and digital, with US preorders already available at this location. Stay tuned as the first single will be revealed soon!

THE OBSESSED Fall European tour 2023:
– Tickets available at this location: https://www.new-terms.com/newterms/music
28.09 – Mannheim (DE) 7er Club
29.09 – Pratteln (CH) Up In Smoke Festival
30.09 – Athens (GR) Demons Gate Festival
03.10 – London (UK) The Underworld
04.10 – Manchester (UK) Rebellion
05.10 – Bristol (UK) The Exchange
07.10 – Munich (DE) Keep It Low Festival
08.10 – Berlin (DE) SO36**
09.10 – Essen (BE) Turock**
11.10 – Linköping (SE) The Crypt**
12.10 – Stockholm (SE) Slaktkyrkan**
14.10 – Helsinki (FIN) Kuudes Linja (first show)**
15.10 – Helsinki (FIN) Kuudes Linja (second show)**
16.10 – Tallin (EST) Paavli Kultuutivabrik
18.10 – Warsaw (PL) Hydrozagadka
19.10 – Krakow (PL) Zascianek
21.10 – Siegen (DE) Vortex
22.10 – Antwerp (BE) Desertfest Belgium**
**with EyeHateGod

Chris Angleberger – bass and vocals
Jason Taylor – guitar and vocals
Brian Costantino – drums
Scott “Wino” Weinrich – guitar and vocals



The Obsessed, Sacred (2017)

The Obsessed, “Freedom” live at Freak Valley Festival 2023

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The Obsessed to Return to Europe Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

You would not accuse The Obsessed of skipping out on doing the work. The classic doomers and progenitors of Maryland doom — if you have The Obsessed and Pentagram, you’re off to a good start — will embark on their second European tour of 2023 next month, doing a stint that covers ground from Athens to Helsinki, diverting to the UK on the way and anchoring weekends with festivals like Up in Smoke, Demons Gate, and Keep it Low before wrapping at Desertfest Belgium in Antwerp. I’ve been waiting for a release announcement for their next album basically since seeing them in June at Freak Valley Festival in Germany (review here), and am sure it’ll show up on the PR wire probably five minutes after this goes live. Murphy’s law of doomblogging.

They’ve got dates with Eyehategod, which between Wino and Jimmy Bower is a meeting between two of the foremost US riffers of their generation — a feast of tone and disillusionment. Dates follow here, and when I get word of that record, I’ll post accordingly. Till then:

The Obsessed euro tour 2

THE OBSESSED – European Tour 2023: Part Two

New countries and a run with our brothers EYEHATEGOD

28.09.2023 GER – Mannheim, 7er Club
29.09.2023 CH – Pratteln, Z7, UP IN SMOKE Festival 2023
30.09.2023 GR – Athens, Kyttaro Live Club, Demons Gate Festival 2023
01.10.2023 GR – Athens, Wino acoustic
03.10.2023 UK – London, The Underworld
04.10.2023 UK – Manchester, Rebellion
05.10.2023 UK – Bristol, The Fleece
07.10.2023 GER – Munich, Backstage, KEEP IT LOW Festival 2023 * with EYEHATEGOD
08.10.2023 GER – Berlin, SO36, * with EYEHATEGOD
09.10.2023 GER – Essen, Turock * with EYEHATEGOD
11.10.2023 SWE – Linköpping, The Crypt * with EYEHATEGOD
12.10.2023 SWE – Stockholm, Slaktkyrkan * with EYEHATEGOD
14.10.2023 FIN – Helsinki, Kuudes Linja (1st show) * with EYEHATEGOD
15.10.2023 FIN – Helsinki, Kuudes Linja (2nd show) * with EYEHATEGOD
16.10.2023 EST – Tallin, venue tba.
18.10.2023 PL – Warszawa, Hydrozagadka
19.10.2023 PL – Kraków, Zaścianek
21.10.2023 GER – Siegen, Vortex
22.10.2023 B – Antwerp, Trix, Desertfest 2023 * with EYEHATEGOD

Poster by Bill Kole

Chris Angleberger – bass and vocals
Jason Taylor – guitar and vocals
Brian Costantino – drums
Scott “Wino” Weinrich – guitar and vocals



The Obsessed, Sacred (2017)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Mark Cruikshank of Zentagram

Posted in Questionnaire on July 7th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Mark Cruikshank of Zentagram

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Mark Cruikshank of Zentagram

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

Event Producer. Of course, “concert promoter” is far more common a term but I feel like a lot of us do a whole lot more than just promote shows.

Describe your first musical memory.

Seeing Captain and Tennille in Hawaii in the mid ’70s. I was a big fan. I was probably 9.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

There’s no easy way to answer this one. So many to choose from. Two weekends in a row at the Oakland Coliseum with my older brother. Can’t remember which one was first but one weekend was Van Halen on the Fair Warning tour and the other weekend was Rush on the Moving Pictures tour.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Pretty much every day I spent as junkie throughout most of the ’90s.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

On a personal level, it leads to being able to express myself without having to actually talk to people.

From a more worldly perspective, I think it’s mostly the same thing. People need to express themselves in ways that don’t involve superficial conversations at work, or phony smiles at your local convenience store. Pretty sure humans were communicating artistically before they were communicating vocally.

How do you define success?

Success to me, is doing something intentionally and being satisfied with the end result.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

I’ve seen quite a few OD’s, a shooting death and a stabbing death. I could do without those memories.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

A show that JJ will come to.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?


Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to my girlfriend coming home tonight and telling me about her day. I’m looking forward to eating dinner with her. I’m looking forward to all four of our cats driving us crazy all night.


Solace, “Spiral Will” live at the Pour House, Raleigh, NC, Nov. 10, 2022

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Review & Full Album Stream: Dee Calhoun, Old Scratch Comes to Appalachia

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 22nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

dee calhoun old scratch comes to appalachia

[Click play above to stream Dee Calhoun’s Old Scratch Comes to Appalachia in its entirety. Album is out tomorrow through Argonauta Records.]

Perhaps best known as the final vocalist for Iron Man and for currently fronting Spiral Grave, who are the spiritual successors of said legends of Maryland doom, Dee Calhoun takes on the task of his fourth solo album in expansive fashion. Across 10 songs/51 minutes, Calhoun, bassist “Iron” Louis Strachan (also of Iron Man lineage, as well as Life Beyond and Wretched) and percussionist/vocalist Rob Calhoun, present Old Scratch Comes to Appalachia as a complement to a Calhoun-penned collection of four novellas published under the same name. As regards full-lengths, it follows behind 2020’s Godless (review here) and 2018’s Go to the Devil (review here), his debut, Rotgut (review here), having arrived in 2016, and maintains in the vein of the Southern apocalyptic acoustic metal that has typified Calhoun‘s work to-date.

But the arrangements run deeper on Old Scratch Comes to Appalachia, and though Calhoun — who here is multi-instrumentalist as well as singer, playing acoustic and electric guitar and a variety of other stringed instruments as well as keyboard — and many songs are united by a kind of heavy, rhythmic, maybe software-based thud, a large-footed stomp in leaves or dirt that one compare to some of Author & Punisher‘s mammoth plod. As Calhoun makes his way through opener “The Day the Rats Came to Town,” soaring on the first sung lyric after the spoken intro, backed by acoustic guitar and harmonica, some flourish of electric guitar hints at the depth of detailing to follow throughout, whether it’s in a whisper track as on “Conjured” or the later “All I Need is One,” the sample at the start of “Verachte Diese Hure,” or the higher-notes line of keys peppered into “Pulse,” and so on. Like some aspect of each of Calhoun‘s solo albums to-date, the abiding theme is anti-religious, untrusting of the traveling preacher who turns out to be the devil, and so on, Calhoun at once sympathetic for the plight of this imaginary devil-beset populace and kind of calling them stupid for believing in the first place: “Closing minds that open wounds in the name of a counterfeit god/With the sin of their own, they spare the rod,” go the lyrics of “Pulse.”

Religious corruption is not the only theme, of course. Calhoun follows the sample in “Verachte Diese Hure” (German for ‘despise this whore’) with some far back percussion, string sounds and a simple, consistent beat, with his voice using the space in the mix, powerful as one might expect. There’s some swagger in his guitar work that wouldn’t be there a couple years ago, and he’s more willing to dwell in the parts, as later shows on the tense verses of “Self-Inflicted,” backed by Rob and a lower-mixed, slow beat behind the guitar. “A Wish in the Darkness” brings a Zeppelin via Down key change to brighter acoustic sentiments, its vocals in layers except that howl of “too late!” before three minutes in and folkish complemented by subtle keys later and Strachan‘s bassline.

That fullness of sound continues on the subsequent “New Modern World” with its hints toward flamenco rhythm missing just the the handclaps joining in and old Western catchiness, the vocals (at least) doubled over the sharp guitar progression as Rob takes his first and likely not last lead spot, plenty of room later for the harmonica solo and whatever wobbly-metal-thing, possibly found instrument percussion is banged on in the background, effectively, since for all the progression and opening sonic doors and bringing in new elements Calhoun does throughout Old Scratch Comes to Appalachia, it’s also his fourth album and by now he’s clearly got a decent idea of the kind of fun he’s looking to have. “New Modern World” is hookier than some of the material around it, but is a fitting landmark as Calhoun and company roll through “Pulse” and the dramatic, guitar-forward, swirling around of “Self-Inflicted,” which is foreboding in a less direct way than “Verachte Diese Hure” but still gets its point across in lyrics like “No life, no hope, no chance, no love from anywhere/Lash out but no one seems to care.” Amid distant crackles keeping the rhythm, keyboard enters at around three minutes in, the brooding sensibility maintained.

dee calhoun promo pic

“Stand With Me” reignites the don’t-come-’round-here-again twang of “Verachte Diese Hure,” but pairs it with harmonized vocals — Dee and his daughter Nadia — and a fuller-sounding arrangement, that same thud buried under the guitars, harmonica or some such, some kind of thing-hitting-another-thing keeping a tinny beat for an extra backwoods feel that reminds all the more of Larman Clamor‘s swamp blues on “All I Need is One,” which follows and puts a heavier, distorted single-stringed diddley bow at the start before an up-front verse takes hold, down to the business of semi-plugged blues metal. A there and gone whisper, intertwining strum and shaker, it’s doom, or at very least Calhoun‘s recontextualizing of it. He is guttural in the line, “I don’t need a million preachers telling me the shape I’m in/All I need is one solution and the healing can begin,” and could carry this material with his voice alone, easily, but that he doesn’t is emblematic of his growth as a songwriter and his emergent willingness to experiment around his central approach.

The final lines of “All I Need is One” are about having “zero fucks to give,” the last one purposefully over-the-top and hilariously grandiose, and if that’s what’s gotten him to where he is, fair enough. As regards philosophies, one could clearly do worse. The closing title-track (premiered here) caps with continued thud and apocalyptic storytelling, some residual metallic shimmer or shake or rattle, and melody forcefully delivered in a way that’s very much Calhoun‘s own despite its long roots in classic metal. “Old Scratch Comes to Appalachia” is the longest cut on the album that shares its name at 6:50, and feels like it’s building initially, though it evens out as the verses unfold.

One can’t help but wonder what a full-band arrangement from Dee Calhoun — the name as a band — might sound like, with drums, bass, guitars, maybe keys given the more prominent role they play here? I don’t know, but Calhoun might get there given the steady growth in his approach that’s unfurled across what’s by this time a respectable solo catalog to go with all his ‘in-band’ pedigree. Multifaceted and multimedia as the album, book, videos and so forth are, it’s difficult to summarize a narrative or speak for the full scope of the outing, but in offering his audience as much depth as possible for Old Scratch Comes to Appalachia, Calhoun is well in keeping with the longstanding, sleeve-worn passion that’s been driving him all this time.

Dee Calhoun, “Old Scratch Comes to Appalachia” official video

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Dee Calhoun website

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Facebook

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The Obsessed Announce July Canadian Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 1st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

the obsessed

[EDIT: For future reference, these shows were later canceled.]

The Obsessed have certainly been kicking around on tour since revamping their lineup as a double-guitar four-piece, but as they hit Freak Valley Festival next week, that will be my first time seeing their current incarnation, with Jason Taylor on guitar/vocals and Chris Angleberger on bass/vocals alongside founding guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich and by-now-long-ish-time drummer Brian Costantino. The band have new Canadian dates set for July, and it’s looking like they’ll be back in Europe this Fall, as they’ve already been confirmed for Keep it Low and Up in Smoke this October, after starting their current Euro tour at Desertfest Berlin and keeping it rolling until Hellfest in France on June 17. They go. They’re already gone.

Last December brought word that the seminal doomers had signed to Ripple Music for the follow-up to 2017’s Relapse-issued Sacred (review here), and I’ve basically been waiting for the release announcement ever since. No word on it yet, but I’d believe it for sure if they had a record coming timed to the Fall tour. Or next Spring’s tour. Or next Summer’s tour. Or next Fall’s tour. Or maybe a Winter run. You get the idea.

Playing with more good bands here:

the obsessed canada shows poster

THE OBSESSED Announce Canadian Invasion Tour Taking Place This July

THE OBSESSED are gearing up to embark on their Canadian Invasion Tour this July. The veteran doom metal quartet will be joined by WITCHROT and THE DEATH WHEELERS (along with HAZEHOUND in Montreal), a special presentation of Fuzzed and Buzzed, the disruptive record label from Toronto specializing in all things Doom.

“Hey Wino here. I just wanted to say, on behalf of myself and my band THE OBSESSED, we are excited and looking forward to our upcoming Canadian shows, July 26 through 29. I am proud to say also we have a new member Canadian guitarist Jason Taylor on second guitar. Having lived a short time in Ottawa as a youngster, the majestic beauty of Canada was imprinted on me forever.”

Tour Dates:
July 26 – Quebec – L’ ANTI BAR
July 27 – Montreal – PIRANHA BAR* (This show also features HAZEHOUND)
July 28 – Ottawa – MAVERICKS BAR
July 29 – Toronto – BOVINE SEX CLUB

Chris Angleberger – bass and vocals
Jason Taylor – guitar and vocals
Brian Costantino – drums
Scott “Wino” Weinrich – guitar and vocals



The Obsessed, Sacred (2017)

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