The Obsessed - Sacred - (8.5/10)
Published on April 6, 2017
Whenever a truly admired band rises like a phoenix from the ashes and returns to the world stage with a new album, everyone holds their breath. Is it going to shower the planet in glorious hellfire or is it going to sink civilisation back into the murkiest of swamps? Hyperbole aside, it’s always an edge-of-your-seat journey from announcement to release, keeping your fingers crossed hoping said band will sound just as good, if not greater, as before – or, at the very least, praying to the heavy ones that the album will not suck. But in this case, this is Scott Weinrich! And much like the Saint Vitus “reunion” album, and their first with Wino for over twenty years (Lillie: F-65), any worries about new material from the legend of the American doom scene are dashed: the first album from The Obsessed in twenty-three years, Sacred is testament to the prowess harnessed by this iconic figure who, somehow, is not only still alive but triumphantly kicking harder than ever before.
Swapping the Spirit Caravan moniker for the rabble-rousing one associated with The Obsessed may have been the right decision after all, as the fourteen songs contained in the package of Sacred definitely bare more resemblance to the energy of 1990’s self-titled album as well as the following year’s Lunar Womb – and energy is exactly what you will find here. Though well into his fifties, Wino still packs a hefty punch both with his powerful vocals and mean guitar-playing as if he was writing an immediate follow up to ‘94s The Church Within and the same goes for his personal and socially-aware song-writing; in fact if it wasn’t for the production you could be mistaken for thinking this is exactly what this is. Caught between brawling numbers like ‘Punk Crusher’ and the rollicking ‘Be the Night’ and sprawling doom numbers such as the epic ‘On So Long’ there is everything here anyone could possibly ask for from The Obsessed, complete with matching attitude – catch the interchange between Wino and then-bassist Dave Sherman on the infectious Thin Lizzy cover ‘It’s Only Money’!
Opening on a song originally heard on the self-titled single from 1983, ‘Sodden Jackal’ lights a fire in your belly and perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the fifty-seven minutes before crossing blows in the aforementioned ‘Punk Crusher’. ‘Sacred’ and ‘Perseverance’ duel with plenty of Sabbathian doom riff-mongering against with killer rhythms that cut the surrounding space like butter. There are plenty of bluesy moments knocking around these streets too: the opening to beautifully crafted ‘Stranger Things’ and the aptly named ‘Crossroader Blues’ (another cover, this time from Mountain), which sounds like it was crafted after an aged deal with the devil, inject themselves triumphantly into the veins of the listener. And if it’s emotions you are looking for, take yourself to the heartfelt glory of ‘My Daughter My Sons’ and the delightfully transcendent work in the previously referenced ‘On So Long’. There is seriously plenty here for everyone and not once does it feel like it is asking for too much of your attention: from start to finish Sacred is an album that just keeps on giving and what it gives is nothing short of majestic.
There are some serious Curious Volume vibes across this album but whereas I am sceptical and cautious of how awesome the latter Pentagram albums are, there is nothing to doubt here. It seems like the comeback album Wino deserved even when he fronted Vitus for their seventh album because this is undoubtedly his. The Obsessed is his project and although he seemingly holds a revolving door policy on musicians (Sherman has since left the group, being replaced with touring bassist Reid Raley), the energy felt on this record is incredibly dynamic and very true. This is a triumphant return and even if this turns out to be a one-time thing – though fingers crossed it isn’t – Sacred will definitely make for one hell of a one-night-stand!