The Obsessed belongs in the category of the legendary American doom acts. Formed during the '70s as Warhorse, they truly kicked things off in the early '90s, with their self-titled debut full-length. Led by Scott “Wino” Weinrich, an iconic figure of the scene, The Obsessed was a powerful vehicle of heavy rock visions and bleak doom worlds. And as a fine-tuned machine, just one year after The Obsessed was released, the essential Lunar Womb followed, finding the act with their best line-up, including bass guitarist Scott Reeder, known best for his works in Kyuss and Greg Rogers, drummer of Goatsnake and formerly of doom/punk supergroup Debris Inc. A final album, The Church Within, came in 1994, and The Obsessed disbanded just a year after, since then releasing a compilation here, a split there… until 2011 when live albums started coming in and promises of a new record on the horizon.
Sacred is that promise fulfilled, the first album from the band in twenty three years, and the expectations are high. What I find interesting about The Obsessed and the surrounding aura of the band, is that they even though they are a doom metal outfit, there is a lot of old-school heavy metal in their concepts, and an affection for the dirty, gritty rock 'n' roll sound. Consider how Lunar Womb was introduced with “Brother Blue Steel.” Encompassing perfectly that old-school, pedal to the metal mentality, that the band really needed to conserved in Sacred. And that is exactly what The Obsessed pulled off. The band is not simply going through the motions in this work, they do not appear tired, but energetic and eager. They happily go on a barrage of heavy riffs, unleashed at a steady, headbanger friendly pace, a place where Black Sabbath and Motorhead meet, in “Punk Crusher” and “Crossroader Blues,” with the blessings of punk-ish additions, in “It's Only Money”.
It is music relied mainly on the vibe and tone the band is able to transmit. By distilling the rock n roll tone out of the of doom genre, they are opening up their sound, creating a fun and exciting recital, that is at the same time dark and heavy. The deviations from that core are not many, but they are still presented with the stoner expeditions, as the band is providing trippy elements to accommodate their furious approach, mixing hallucinogens and stimulants to a great end, enacting moments of Americana, bringing to mind the solo releases of Wino, or time traveling to the '70s.
Getting all this information might feel like The Obsessed gravitate further from doom, but worry not. The band is heavily established in the domain, and every riff and turn, every drum hit and vowel being uttered, scream to that effect, especially with a track such “On So Long,” a true opus of American doom, pointing to the connection with acts like Pentagram and, of course, Saint Vitus. Sacred even though does not let us discover something new, makes up on that front with energy and tonality. This is music to be experienced live, and I cannot wait to see The Obsessed going on a tour, performing epic tracks like “Cold Blood” and “Perseverance.”
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Posted May 26, 2016, 6:03 p.m.
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