This is the debut release from Stoner Rock and Doom veteran Scott “WINO” Weinrich, a fact that justifiably raises expectations for its quality. That he is joined here by CLUTCH drummer Jean Paul Gaster and REZIN bassist Jon Blank only raises those expectations even higher.
This is pure 1970's Hard Rock. Fans of Weinrich's work with SAINT VITUS and THE OBSESSED will find plenty here that they recognize, plus a few surprises. As with a lot of the Hard Rock of the 70's, there is a lot of experimentation here, as all of the songs move seamlessly between flirtations with harder-edged Blues, psychedelic riffing and solos, and the free-ranging open-endedness of experimental Jazz. Yet all of it remains firmly entrenched in a Hard Rock core.
Weinrich's guitar playing is not overly technical by today's Metal standards, but it is uniquely expressive. Clearly drawing influence from Jimi Hendrix, his solos are dissonant with a heaping helping of feedback. Weinrich's style hearkens back to a time when guitarists like Hendrix, Clapton, and Blackmore were able to coax almost human sounds from their instruments – a scream, a wail, a moan. Few guitarists not brought up in the tradition of old-school Blues are able to deliver such emotion.
Jon Blank's distorted bass deserves special recognition here as well. He is not content to simply pluck out a simple two-four Blues rhythm, but rather meanders skillfully through a mellow psychedelic Jazz groove on all of the tracks. Rhythm gets high priority on this release, and fortunately both Blank's and Gaster's talents are featured prominently in the mix.
This is some solid old-school Hard Rock that will appeal to fans old enough to remember when BLACK SABBATH were psychedelic and ZZ TOP actually played Blues. Given the skillful manner in which this band plays such a tight set while taking a free-jazz improvisation approach to performance, WINO give every indication of being a treat to see live, and one would hope that a tour supports this release
(Online February 14, 2009)