Review & Full Album Stream: Wino, Forever Gone

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

wino forever gone

[Click play above to stream Wino’s Forever Gone in full. Album is out Friday on Ripple Music with preorders here for US and here for EU.]

It is overwhelming to consider the tumult of the decade between Scott “Wino” Weinrich‘s 2010 debut solo album, Adrift (review here), and this follow-up, Forever Gone. The dissolution of Shrinebuilder, the acoustic collaboration with German singer-songwriter Conny Ochs, the tenure fronting Saint Vitus that ended in an arrest in Norway for amphetamine possession and subsequent ban from Schengan Area countries in Europe — which was a five-year sentence, but still resulted in his being unable to tour there last year — as well as reunions first with The Obsessed, then Spirit Caravan, then Spirit Caravan becoming The Obsessed and changing its lineup before putting out their first album in two decades. Through all of this and the inevitable whatever-it-was I left out, Weinrich continued to perform solo acoustic shows, and so the notion of a second album was never completely absent, but apparently it took some doing to make it happen.

But if it was Weinrich‘s goal to channel living through those years into the craft and performance of Forever Gone — released through Ripple Music where Adrift was on Exile on Mainstream — it comes through as a palpable emotional and atmospheric weight in songs like the opening title-track, “No Wrong” and “Lavender and Sage,” and the penultimate “Was, Is and Shall Be,” the latter two of which feature guest vocals. Thinking of arrangements as compared to the 2010 offering, Forever Gone feels much less restricted to a guy-and-guitar aesthetic. There’s the slide in “You’re So Fine,” drums and electrics on “Dark Ravine,” an electric solo woven into early highlight “Taken” and vocal layering used sporadically throughout. The effect this has is to make minimalist moments like “The Song’s at the Bottom of the Bottle” and “Dead Yesterday” — which if nothing else certainly feels like a thematic answer to “Forever Gone” itself — stand out all the more, conveying the loneliness, regret and contemplation at root in some of the material while still leaving room for hope in more expansive pieces like “Dark Ravine” or the closing Joy Division cover “Isolation,” which comes through almost as a full-band, with drums, electric and acoustic guitars, and multiple layers of voice.

That finale should be readily enough familiar to those who’ve kept up with Wino‘s solo work live in the last eight or so years, and it’s also one of several of the pieces throughout Forever Gone that draws from the Wino & Conny Ochs collaborations. “Isolation” appeared on their Labour of Love 2012 Latitudes session (discussed here), while “Dead Yesterday” and “Dark Ravine” appeared on that same year’s full-length debut (also on Exile on Mainstream), Heavy Kingdom (review here), and “Crystal Madonna” and “Forever Gone” itself featured on Freedom Conspiracy (review here) in 2015. As Forever Gone is serving double-duty as the beginning of a series of acoustic-based Ripple releases called ‘Blood and Strings,’ it’s not like anyone’s trying to pass these off as brand new — Wino isn’t “getting one over” or anything like that — but the familiarity of some of the material and the refresh on the arrangements gives them new life and while obviously Weinrich is at the center of all the material, the work of producer Frank “The Punisher” Marchand isn’t to be ignored when it comes to the finished product of Forever Gone.

scott wino weinrich

Whether it’s intertwining electrics and acoustics at the start of “Taken” or giving a sense of space through subtle vocal echo thereafter, or highlighting the classic blues rock feel of “You’re So Fine” to bring a moment of joy between the more melancholic “Dead Yesterday” and “Crystal Madonna,” each strum is as crisp as it wants to be, and Wino‘s voice comes through with no less instrumental detail, the product of decades of living and singing hard manifest in making the languid melody of “Lavender and Sage” feel like something earned rather than simply adopted as a stylistic choice. Part of that of course stems from the narrative of Wino‘s career itself, but if ever there was a place for such context and for his personality to come through as sharply as it does, Forever Gone would seem to be it, and Marchand is due much credit in making that happen.

Weinrich‘s in-genre legacy is well established through his work in The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, The Hidden Hand, etc., and doesn’t need to be recounted here anymore than it already has. What comes through most on Forever Gone is that, rather than seeing an artist resting on his laurels and self-indulgently pushing through 11 songs and 45 minutes of assembled material, Wino here brings the unmistakable character of songwriting and passion of performance that has made him the figurehead he is. It is an indelible mark of his work and whether it’s in the relatively uptempo version here of “Dark Ravine” or in “Crystal Madonna” — which was a highlight of Freedom Conspiracy and is one on Forever Gone as well — it is the foundation on which these songs, new and old alike, are built. With the variety in arrangements and guests in and out adding to Weinrich‘s vocals and guitar, there is a sense of completeness about Forever Gone that feels progressed forward from Adrift even as it stays loyal to the form.

It is impossible to know where the next decade might take Wino as a performer or a human being, but with this collection, his place as America’s Godfather of Doom is reaffirmed even as he breaks the confines of doom itself; though anyone who tells you Forever Gone isn’t heavy needs to recheck their definition of the word. As vibrant as this material is, and as much as it brims with the passion and creative intensity that brought it to bear in the studio, there continues to be a heft that is either underlying or at the fore, moving no less dynamically than the arrangements of the songs throughout, and no less crucial to the understanding of what this record is. I’ve said before, on plenty of occasions, there’s only one Wino. That’s where the count remains. And if Forever Gone is his way of marking the passage of the last 10 years, it is of due substance to be up to that task.

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Wino website

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Review & Lyric Video Premiere: Pale Divine, Consequence of Time

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on June 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Pale Divine Consequence of Time

[Click play above to see the premiere of Pale Divine’s lyric video for ‘Saints of Fire.’ Consequence of Time is out June 26 and available to preorder from Cruz Del Sur: CD preorder, LP preorder w/ poster & download, digital release June 19.]

Even among American traditionalist doom — which as a whole is underrated — there aren’t many who reach the same echelons in that regard as Pale Divine. Also their debut release for Cruz Del Sur MusicConsequence of Time is their sixth full-length, and as it arrives just two years after 2018’s self-titled LP (review here), it also marks the quickest time differential the Chesapeake-region group — Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware — have ever had between two offerings. Pale Divine, the record, was notable for marking the first appearance of Ron “Fezz” McGinnis on bass and backing vocals, who brought the five-string acumen he’d demonstrated in Admiral Browning and countless others to the classic-style rolling riffs and searing leads of guitarist Greg Diener (also vocals) and the ever-steady, never-flashy, always-efficient drumming of Darin McCloskey. On the eight-song/42-minute Consequence of Time, there is another significant change in the band’s makeup.

Even as they were releasing the self-titled, Pale Divine announced the addition of Dana Ortt on guitar and vocals alongside Diener, a shift that was essentially a merging between Pale Divine and the Ortt-led Beelzefuzz, in which Diener and McCloskey had both been members. The end result is that between DienerOrtt and McGinnisPale Divine now have three vocalists capable of carrying a song on their own, whether it’s Diener‘s metal-tinged proclamations, Ortt‘s bizarro-prog otherworldliness, complemented by his nuance of guitar tone, or McGinnis with his lower register bluesy take. Unsurprisingly, Consequence of Time is easily the most diverse album Pale Divine have ever made, and perhaps also the richest in terms of its general approach, since the influences especially of its two guitarists are readily on display, whether it’s in the Beelzefuzzian chug and dreamstate lumber of “Phantasmagoria” or in Diener‘s veritable clinic on how to shred a solo and still give a sense of soul in the process.

It bears underscoring just how significant of a turn Consequence of Time is for Pale Divine. The band mark their 25th anniversary in 2020, having begun with McCloskey and Diener in 1995 before releasing their first demo a couple years later. It seems to me not just a marked change in terms of the band’s sound that welcoming Ortt has enacted, but a genuinely admirable openness on the part of Diener. Yes, there’s “sharing the spotlight,” as much as such a thing exists in a genre where one might be inclined in the first sentence of a review to point out how underrated it is, but more than that, to have the ability after some 20 years of having the band as a vehicle for his songwriting to be able to adjust the entire process in such a way is staggering.

pale divine

Ortt doesn’t just sing backup on Consequence of Time, and he makes a mark in terms of the overall style of riffs and tones as well on songs like “Broken Martyr,” “Satan in Starlight,” and even the Diener-led opener “Tyrants/Pawns (Easy Prey).” It’s a rare band and a rare player who would allow that kind of shift to take place at any point, let alone after 20 years, and Pale Divine are unquestionably stronger for it. The patience in the 10-minute unfolding of the 10-minute title-track alone is proof of the subtle level on which the change can be felt, a melding of purpose between what Beelzefuzz were by their finish and the roots-doom mindset that Pale Divine have always portrayed so well.

Perhaps it’s sharing vocal duties that has allowed Diener‘s guitar to shine all the more, but his leads soar throughout Consequence of Time in striking fashion, and with McGinnis‘ bass and McCloskey‘s drums behind, there’s never any risk of the band losing their trajectory whatsoever. As the title-track approaches the halfway mark, Diener and Ortt share vocals against a stark and largely quiet backdrop ahead of the next classic metal lead (it might be Ortt‘s, I can’t be sure), but that moment sums up the incredible, throw-the-doors-open spirit of Consequence of Time. Ortt takes the fore later, and Diener rejoins and the two guitars lock purposes in solos and riffs to close out, but in that moment, not only the change of the band’s sound, but the creative spirit that drove that change are palpable. The risk and the reward both are right there for the listener to absorb.

The subsequent closing pair “No Escape” and “Saints of Fire” would seem to be an epilogue of sorts, or at least a movement unto themselves after the title-track, but their purpose isn’t lost for existing in the shadow of the 10-minute cut preceding. In the speedy “No Escape,” Diener fronts, and they trade for “Saints of Fire,” and it’s a last-minute showcase of the multifaceted nature of who Pale Divine are in 2020 and what they can accomplish as a group in this new form. “No Escape” gallops in brash form and is probably the most fun I’ve ever heard Pale Divine have on a record, and “Saints of Fire” pushes in its second half into a quirky dark gorgeousness that feels like pure inheritance from Beelzefuzz put to righteous use. Pale Divine, the power-trio turned four-piece after 20-some years, march their way out of Consequence of Time and into an unknowable future as a stronger, more versatile and more vibrant unit.

The band they were is still very much present in their sound, and they remain as sonically committed to doom as they’ve ever been, but the foundation of influence has expanded and their craft is all the more affecting and progressive for it. Between the quick turnaround, the new label and the new construction, Pale Divine move into their second quarter-century with an almost impossible feeling of potential, and one can only look forward to what they might yet accomplish as they move on from here. 25 years on and reaching new heights. That is a special band, and yes, vastly underrated. They may stay that way and they may not, but one way or the other, Consequence of Time will stand as one of 2020’s foremost offerings in doom, and deservedly so.

Pale Divine on Thee Facebooks

Pale Divine website

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Days of Rona: Darin McCloskey of Pale Divine

Posted in Features on May 19th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the varied responses of publics and governments worldwide, and the disruption to lives and livelihoods has reached a scale that is unprecedented. Whatever the month or the month after or the future itself brings, more than one generation will bear the mark of having lived through this time, and art, artists, and those who provide the support system to help uphold them have all been affected.

In continuing the Days of Rona feature, it remains pivotal to give a varied human perspective on these events and these responses. It is important to remind ourselves that whether someone is devastated or untouched, sick or well, we are all thinking, feeling people with lives we want to live again, whatever renewed shape they might take from this point onward. We all have to embrace a new normal. What will that be and how will we get there?

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

pale divine darin mccloskey

Days of Rona: Darin McCloskey of Pale Divine (West Chester, Pennsylvania)

How have you been dealing with this crisis as a band? As an individual? What effect has it had on your plans or creative processes?

Well as a band, like many others it has us on hiatus; practice, gigs and writing as a group came to an abrupt halt. That being said we had just finished recording our new album ‘Consequence of Time’, and are currently positioning ourselves to introduce the album. We’re hoping that we can get out and play live here in the near future. As an individual I can honestly say that it hasn’t had that much of an effect on me personally. I’m a homebody and with an “essential worker status” my routine has primarily stayed intact. I really feel for the people whose life has been upended by the pandemic.

How do you feel about the public response to the outbreak where you are? From thegovernment response to the people around you, what have you seen and heard from others?

That’s a difficult question to answer. I think that the response should directly relate to the overall numbers of cases asymptomatic, symptomatic, deaths, age ranges and regions. Trouble with this is the numbers have been all over the place depending on the source. Pennsylvania recently had to reduce the death toll by a little over 200 due to corrections between probable and confirmed cases. I can understand that people fear the unknown, I just hope it doesn’t cripple us as a society. I would like everyone to enjoy living rather than concentrating on what could possibly kill you. I think a balance is what we all need…but that’s just me. You should be able to be concerned, take precautions but not let it consume you.

What do you think of how the music community specifically has responded? How do you feel during this time? Are you inspired? Discouraged? Bored? Any and all of it?

I think the music community shines in situations like these. Not only does it give them time for creativity, it also shines a light on their personable nature. I see bands reaching out, live streaming, simply talking about life in general. I’ve seen some drawing attention to people and establishments in need. I personally enjoy the time spent with my wife, my dogs and record collection. That being said it will be great playing live again and going to some concerts. Fingers crossed that it will be soon.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, orpersonally, or anything? What is your new normal? What have you learned from this experience, about yourself, your band, or anything?

I can’t complain about my situation, to do so would make light of the hardships so many are going through right now. As for “New Normal,” I truly hope that in the future this will be no one’s new normal. There needs to be precautions until we know the true scope of this virus. I just hope that we can soon move forward and enjoy life again. Life is to be lived, but for now stay safe and keep your eye on the prize.

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Days of Rona: Dee Calhoun of Spiral Grave

Posted in Features on April 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. — JJ Koczan

dee calhoun

Days of Rona: Dee Calhoun of Spiral Grave (Frederick, Maryland)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

With Spiral Grave, we’ve put rehearsals off. We are spread so far apart that the distance is already a challenge, and now even more so with people being asked to please stay in. Everyone is doing fine health-wise, just trying to stay as active as possible. I’ve been able to keep working on my solo music with no issues, so that is a huge help mentally.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

In Maryland, all non-essential businesses are closed, and schools are currently closed until April 27th. I’m one of the very lucky ones, I’m still able to work full-time, and am teleworking until further notice. I go out for groceries and that’s about it.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

It seems to be drawing the music community closer together. We’re a family here, and right now we’re cut off from family and it sucks. It is wonderful though, seeing all the live streams and things, getting to see bands and artists in ways that you don’t usually get to see them. I think it will make for a greater appreciation of live music once the Earth starts spinning again.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

In talking to Willy, Lou and Mot, we’re all doing well. We’re bummed out that things are the way they are, but we’re each trying to be smart and do the things we should be doing while this is happening. Personally, I’m hanging in there, and I’m proud to see my kids handling the situation the way they are. I tell Rob to pay close attention to what’s going on, because future generations are going to want to know about it. Learn from this, in the hopes that society comes out better on the other side of it.

www.screamingmaddee.com
https://www.facebook.com/screamingmaddee/
https://www.facebook.com/SpiralGrave/
www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec
www.saltoftheearthrecords.com
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Scott “Wino” Weinrich Signs to Ripple Music; New Solo LP Forever Gone Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Good get. Cheers to Ripple Music and Scott “Wino” Weinrich for joining forces on the latter’s new solo album, Forever GoneRipple will release the first apparently-acoustic Wino solo record since 2010’s Adrift (review here) — though of course Wino has continued to do unplugged collaborations in the intervening decade, with, among others, German singer-songwriter Conny OchsScott Kelly of Neurosis, and Jennifer Herrema of Royal Trux, either on a one-off, touring, or as in the case of Ochs, more regular basis — and he’s kept himself plenty busy besides what with the reunions of The Obsessed and Spirit Caravan, the eventual studio return of The Obsessed after more than two decades and hard touring there. Hell, in 2010, he was still fronting Saint Vitus and would put out the Lillie: F-65 (review here) record with them in 2012.

Even so, a new acoustic Wino album is a big deal, both because Adrift is of high-enough quality to stand up (coming on) 10 years since it was first released, and because of course in Wino‘s unmatched pedigree in doom, having been in the above-named acts as well as ShrinebuilderPremonition 13The Hidden Hand, and on and on and on. You know he’s got stories to tell.

And speaking of: Hey, Wino — if by some tiny chance you’re reading this and you’re looking for someone to co-author or help ghostwrite an autobiography, I know a blogger who works cheap. Just thought I’d mention it.

More to the point, keep an eye out for more news about Forever Gone. I have the feeling I’m going to spend a lot of next year talking about it, so get used to the idea.

Ripple‘s announcement follows, as per thee social media:

scott wino weinrich

Major news! Ripple Music are honored to announce the signing of doom legend Scott “Wino” Weinrich!

Wino’s new solo album will launch Ripple’s new “Blood and Strings” acoustic series — in which some of the most admired names in riff-rock and metal unplug to record albums of acoustic heaviness. ‘Forever Gone’ will come out in early 2020, stay tuned for more info!

Please welcome Scott “Wino” Weinrich to the Ripple Family. Can’t tell you how stoked we are!

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Wino, “Adrift”

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Pale Divine Sign to Cruz Del Sur Music; Consequence of Time Due in May

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I don’t mind telling you this is the one I’ve been waiting for. No doubt Cruz Del Sur have been on a trad doom and metal tear, from Ogre and Orodruin to Death the Leveller and Tower, but I’ve heard rumblings of Pale Divine joining those ranks for a few months now, and it’s well earned on the part of the Pennsylvania, etc., four-piece. The band will mark a quarter-century of existence in 2020 with the release of their new album, Consequence of Time in May, and as they follow-up 2018’s stellar self-titled (review here), they’ll also have their first offering not only through the new label home — where they’re all the more kin to Apostle of Solitude, Argus, etc. — but their first as a four-piece, having shortly welcomed guitarist/vocalist Dana Ortt (now ex-Beelzefuzz) to the lineup after the release of the last record.

Mark this one a win. A genuine feel-good story for the month, and a genuine feel-doomed album to look forward to.

The PR wire makes it official:

pale divine

Cruz Del Sur Music is proud to announce the signing of Pennsylvania doom mainstays PALE DIVINE.

Founded in 1995, Pale Divine has made a name for itself with its time-honored and distinctive take on classic doom metal. Albums such as 2004’s “Eternity Revealed” and 2007’s “Cemetery Earth” cemented the band’s reputation as one of the best pure torchbearers of BLACK SABBATH and SAINT VITUS-styled doom.

PALE DIVINE — who comprise of vocalist/guitarist Greg Diener, guitarist Dana Ortt, bassist Ron Fezzy McGinnis and drummer Darin McCloskey — is currently hunkered down in the studio with producer Richard Whittaker recording their sixth studio album, “Consequence Of Time”, which will see the light of day in May 2020. The album’s artwork will be handled by Brian Tutlo, the man responsible for the eye-catching “Thunder Perfect Mind” and “Eternity Revealed” covers.

“It’s definitely a natural progression but maybe not in the way people might expect, which is one of the reasons we’re excited,” says McCloskey. “We have a new lineup now which includes Dana, whom Greg and I played with in BEELZEFUZZ. Dana has brought a new element to the band that blends perfectly with PALE DIVINE that has helped us take things to the next level.”

PALE DIVINE came to join Cruz Del Sur Music through a familiar face: WHILE HEAVEN WEPT leader Tom Phillips. The band originally crossed paths with Cruz Del Sur label head Enrico at the 2018 Hammer Of Doom festival in Germany, but it was Phillips who initiated the proper discussions. After that, according to McCloskey, it was a no-brainer to sign with Cruz Del Sur.

“We had heard great things about Cruz Del Sur from our friends in Argus and Apostle of Solitude so we were already familiar and very interested. We discussed things with Enrico and he offered us a great deal. Moving forward, we’re really excited to be part of the Cruz Del Sur Music roster. It feels like we’re part of a family now. This is where we belong.”

PALE DIVINE will be celebrating its 25th year as a band in 2020. McCloskey says the highlights have been numerous, starting with the bands they’ve played with and the people they’ve met over the years, as well as their first trip to Germany in 2005 playing alongside PLACE OF SKULLS and RISING DUST. “In many ways, it always sort of feels like we’re just starting out,” he says. “Every new experience, every new song and new album pretty much reinforces that. We still have a lot of music in us and a lot more to accomplish. It hardly seems like it’s been 25 years, in all honestly. Going overseas for the first time and playing for people who were fans of our music was pretty mind-blowing for us at the time…still is, really. Even our recent trip to Würzburg last year for Hammer Of Doom was an awesome experience as well. Certainly, the chemistry we have in our current lineup has been a big highlight and, of course, signing with Cruz Del Sur!”

Pale Divine is:
Greg Diener – vocals & guitar
Dana Ortt – guitar
Ron “Fezzy” McGinnis – bass & vocals
Darin McCloskey – drums

https://www.facebook.com/serpentspath/
http://www.paledivineband.com/
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cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com

Pale Divine, Pale Divine (2018)

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Friday Full-Length: The Obsessed, Live at the Wax Museum

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

First off, I like bootlegs. The act of putting yourself in the raw moment of seeing a band play via a sometimes rough recording from a microphone somewhere in the audience. You can hear people talking between the songs, and you can hear the band as they were from the stage — no cleanup, no mixing, nothing. Bootlegs are the truest of “warts and all” presentations for live music. I’ll take a soundboard recording, to be sure, and a good-sounding A+ boot is like a gift from the gods — thinking specifically of Black Sabbath‘s Asbury Park ’75 recording (discussed here), but of course there are many examples among live and studio unofficial releases — but there’s for sure an appeal to a harsher-audio bootleg. It’s a document of a moment that would otherwise be lost to time and memory.

They’re not for everyone, and that’s cool. If they’re not for you, you might want to move on, skip to the bottom part where I bitch about life or just go about your day or whatever. But if you count yourself among the number who can be entranced by such things, and you’re a fan of the band, then the pure aural force The Obsessed display on Live at the Wax Museum should be considered utterly essential. Recorded on July 3, 1983, it first showed up in 1992 as an unofficial release through Doom Records and it wasn’t until last year that The Church Within (fittingly enough) gave it its first official pressing, with a glow the dark cover and a CD encased in a DVD-style digipak, textured artwork and all. The Obsessed have had a few archival live offerings this decade, including Live at the Melkweg November 28th 1992 and Live Music Hall Köln December 29th 1992 in 2012 when the band first got back together, but Live at the Wax Museum has a different feel, its title giving it a sense of importance as a milestone for the band: that time they were in that place. Also distinguishing Live at the Wax Museum is the fact that it was recorded some nine years before those other shows, with guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Mark Laue and drummer Dave Flood — who demolishes a drum solo in “Sister Sin” right around the middle of the set, igniting howls from the crowd — playing as intense as I’ve ever heard any incarnation of the band.

Across songs like “Concrete Cancer,” which is introduced during Wino‘s minimalist stage banter as an “old tune,” and “Touch of Everything” (a “dance tune”) and “Mental Kingdom” (a “brand new song”),

the obsessed live at the wax museum

along with 11 others for a total of 14 cuts plus an intro, The Obsessed absolutely tear into this show. There’s a minute-long intro from some preacher talking about how rock music is the devil and blah blah blah and then the three-piece rip into “Burning Gland” and there’s no going back. “Iron & Stone” and set-finale “Sodden Jackal” would show up in ’83 on the band’s first 7″ single following two should-probably-be-reissued demos — their 1984 Concrete Cancer demo was given a limited run by Relapse in 2017, so it’d be as simple as repackaging 1999’s Incarnate, I think — but what’s most striking about Live at the Wax Museum is the sheer intensity of it, and that’s something that comes through despite the rough audio. Because, let’s face it: it’s a bootleg. It ain’t a cleaned-up live record, or something that’s been remastered and remastered, the tape gone over with a fine-toothed comb to remove the static noise. It’s all there. You get to hear someone in the crowd after “Concrete Cancer” shout that “FM radio sucks!” — nothing changes — and someone else later call out for them to play some Sabbath after they nail “Mental Kingdom” — again, nothing changes — and if you’re in the right mindset listening, all of that feeds into the specific atmosphere of the release.

Maybe that’s an added academic or theoretical appeal, but Live at the Wax Museum has no shortage of highlight performance moments to go along with that, from the winding and chugging of “Failsafe” to the utterly indispensable “Neatz Brigade,” which is probably the catchiest hook Wino ever wrote — that’s a pretty vast pantheon of stuff between The ObsessedSpirit CaravanThe Hidden HandPremonition 13, and the sundry other units in which he’s been involved or led — but in terms of the way the verse builds tension for the chorus to open up and release, I can’t come up with a match for it. Especially not listening to it as it appears here. Certainly the catchiest The Obsessed tune, at the very least, and one that, 36 years later, you’re still pretty much guaranteed to see them play at every show. With good reason.

I wasn’t there in 1983 for this show. I was going on two, so let’s assume I wouldn’t have been able to make it even if I’d been aware of it, or, say, anything. But having Live at the Wax Museum as not just proof that it happened but kind of a glimpse at who The Obsessed were at the time and how much their miraculously-not-punk grit and working-class disaffection flew in the face of the burgeoning grandeur of the NWOBHM is not only helpful in explaining who they were at the time and how they earned the reputation they’ve long enjoyed, but also just a badass-sounding recording of a raw three-piece working to shape what we now know as Maryland doom. Hell yes that gets multiple spins from me.

The history of The Obsessed is tumultuous and ongoing, but their long absence ended in 2012 and in 2017, they produced the LP Sacred (review here), their first new album in some 23 years. They’ve been touring steadily for it since. They did Muddy Roots in Tennessee in August, Descendants of Crom III in Pittsburgh in September, last weekend were at Cafe 611 — home of Maryland Doom Fest — with Spiral Grave and others, and will travel to California next Spring for Psycho Smokeout. So yes, keeping busy. I don’t know if they’re planning another record or what, but they’ve got plenty of time to keep aligned with their every-two-decades pace, and I’m happy to see them play whenever the opportunity presents itself. Hearing Live at the Wax Museum only underscores why.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

New merch is out. Including sweatpants.

Get it here: https://mibk.bigcartel.com/products

And thank you for your support.

Today is also a new episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. The first new one in more than a month. You hopefully already saw the playlist. It’s on at 1PM Eastern.

Listen on the Gimme app or here: http://gimmeradio.com

And thanks again for your support.

While I’m indulging shameless plugs, I’ll be at Ode to Doom tomorrow in Manhattan, presented in part by this site. Horehound, Thunderbird Divine, Mantismass and Iron Rider are playing.

Event page is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/298666037420426/

And hey, thanks for your support.

Before you say it, I know Slayer and Primus are at MSG tomorrow night. In the hallowed halls of the Knicks and Billy Joel. Cough. I won’t ever tell you not to go see Primus, and I get that it’s Slayer’s alleged farewell tour, but yeah. Seems like as regards Slayer, I’ve got my memories of seeing them destroy, and I’d rather make new memories than relive old ones. So I’ll be at Arlene’s Grocery. I’m not telling you you’re wrong for being nostalgic — Primus are one of my all-time favorite bands; I’ve loved Primus since I was single digits, and I’ve loved seeing them every chance I’ve had — or trying to get while the getting’s good, but yeah. I’ve never seen Thunderbird Divine, or Mantismass, or Iron Rider, and Horehound rule, so I’ll take the lower key option and be grateful for it.

This weekend is also my sister’s birthday, so we’re doing family dinner tonight because I’ll be out tomorrow — not at all the first time I’ve rescheduled such things for a show; these people are very indulgent, these relatives of mine — and then I guess other whatnot over the course of the next couple days that I’m sure will be good.

That’s fine. It was a shit week. They all are. I spent most of it overthinking food, yelling at a two-year-old, feeling bad for yelling at a two-year-old, getting hit, kicked and bit at various points, being wrong about fucking everything, going back and forth with homeowners insurance, waiting for the other shoe to drop that will make us have to move again and daydreaming about being dead. In any case, a little time out of my head is welcome.

Thanks to everyone who has added a list so far to the end-of-decade poll. If that’s not you, I humbly point you to the form to do so here. Include whatever you want. Have fun with it.

I think that’s the last of the plugs.

Well, unless you count all the stuff for next week. Monday is that Ode review, plus a stream of the new Midas EP. Tuesday a Canyon of the Skull album stream. Wednesday an Onhou album stream — dark, dark, dark that one is. Thursday a track premiere and review of the new Solace record that I should probably just start writing now to get it done in time. Next Friday a Czar track premiere. Whole week, nailed down. Most of the week after as well. Busy times for being the “off season” in rock and roll, but it usually is, so fair enough.

Gonna try to get my head into the day to come (still early as I write) and probably fail miserably, as I so, so often do.

Great and safe weekend. Forum, radio and NEW merch.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

 

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The Obsessed Cancel European Tour; Playing Descendants of Crom III This Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obsessed (photo by David Torrence)

Come on, Norway. You could let Wino in at this point. It’s been five years. Considering it as a punitive measure, I can’t even imagine how much the loss of European touring income would be in terms of paying a fine. Certainly enough for however much drugs it was he got busted with at the border. Shit happens. Dude took the hit, so maybe time to move on?

It’s a bummer that The Obsessed‘s return trip to the Schengen countries and greater Europe has been nixed on account of ongoing fallout from that arrest, but the band, who also toured earlier this year in the States with C.O.C. and Crowbar, will appear this coming weekend at Descendants of Crom III in Pittsburgh, so the news isn’t all bad. They’ll be more than welcome I’m sure as they take the place of ASG on that bill and join the ranks of Solace, Foghound, Valkyrie and hometown heroes Argus, among many others. That’s pretty much a guaranteed good time.

Wino posted the following through the social medias:

the obsessed descendants of crom iii

Hello to all our fans and friends .

We are saddened to say that all European Obsessed shows in fall have been cancelled .

The facts are: After an arrest in Norway I was banned from Norway and all the Schengen countries for five years. Its been five years . Recently we found out, only by chance, that the Norwegian govt was not only deceptive about the ability to enter other countries by visa but also intentionally delayed filing my appeal that I filed in a timely manner in accordance with Norwegian law. This added an extra year to the ban consequently keeping THE OBSESSED from being able to play in Europe (UK is not included in the ban).

I feel I have been wronged by these events. I have accepted responsibility for my actions initially but now our hands are tied. Knowledge of these actions by the Norwegian govt only came to light when i arrived in Berlin to play acoustic set at Desertfest earlier this year. After being detained 10 hours i was luckily granted a temporary three day visa, but advised by the German border police of the extended ban etc. We are seeking legal recourse now and will be over to play as soon as we can. Our most sincere apologies.

We will be playing in Pittsburgh Saturday September 21st at the Descendants of Crom III festival. Great lineup….. it’s going to be a kick ass night. See you there.

Thanks to all who believe.
WINO – THE OBSESSED

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

The Obsessed, Sacred (2017)

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