By: Richard Maw
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 07/04/2017
Label: Relapse Records
Quite simply, I can't find anything on this album I don't like. The best comeback of the year, without a doubt. This record will be turning up in many year end lists, without a doubt. It could even be the best album by The Obsessed, but only time will tell on that one. I can't recommend this highly enough.
“Sacred” CD//DD//LP track listing:
5.Perseverance of Futility
6.It's Only Money
9.Razor Wire 03:32
10.My Daughter My Sons
11.Be the Night
13.On So Long (Bonus Track)
14.Crossroader (Bonus Track)
The Obsessed, or at least Wino and side men (ever changing), return after a twenty three year hiatus from releasing albums. While Saint Vitus is not Wino's band, so are discounted here, of all Wino's bands- the ones he runs- The Obsessed enjoy the greatest reputation. The rep is deserved. Their self titled, “Lunar Womb” and “The Church Within” are all classics in their own right.
To be fair, Spirit Caravan was a great band, The Hidden Hand was a great band, Wino's solo electric and acoustic records... all great! “Sacred”, though, has something more. From the moment I pressed play, I was hooked. This is a record that I find very hard to fault. The production is great; thick guitar, lots of low end, punchy drums, great mix. The songs are even better.
Kicking off with the re-recording of “Sodden Jackal” is a solid move; it sets out where the band is at these days and it also makes it clear that business as usual has resumed. It's still a powerful and creepy track after all these years. Wino's on great form vocally too. Henry Rollins once described The Obsessed as being the sound of someone getting really angry, really slowly. Indeed.
The rest of the record simply thunders by and keeps song lengths taught and toned. Those who have looked out for advance tracks will know “Punk Crusher” already. It's a great Motorhead-esque blast of rock 'n' roll. The title track is trippier in sound and scope than you might expect and nods back, as much of the album does, to 60's/70's psychedelic rock as well as Black Sabbath. The record has some crossover with Victor Griffin/Place of Skulls/Pentagram; it's doom, but doom rock as opposed to metal a lot of the time. This sensibility makes “Sacred” a very listenable album indeed. It is never heavy for heavy's sake. The song writing shines through.
There are punkier moments on offer such as “Haywire”, too. It's a trait that Wino shares with his compatriots in Saint Vitus; no one tempo runs through the album and there is more variety than you might expect. The grooves come thick and slow on “Perseverance of Futility”, with nice organ and percussion flourishes along with the drums and guitars. There are other quirks on the record too, Wino and the since departed Sherman trade lines to great effect on Thin Lizzy's “It's Only Money” and makes the song into an event (kind of like how “Step Down” sits as a curio on “Bomber” by Motorhead). As a big fan of Thin Lizzy, it's great to hear this turn up mid album on a record by a band who (on paper) are quite different.
The instrumental “Cold Blood” proves that Wino can riff with the absolute best of them (Iommi, Griffin et al) and it is a real stand out and left field highlight of the record. The solos are really good, too. There is more bluesy doom/rock to be had on “Stranger Things”, which uses a weird acoustic guitar figure to open and close and has some very strong riff passages and vocals. Another of the preview tracks, “Razor Wire”, is absolutely badass and an album highlight for me. When Wino sings “I'd rather get high, than pay the rent” I absolutely believe him. “My Daughter My Sons” is a track which is in some ways closer to Wino's acoustic output, both in lyrical content and laid back vibe.
By the time we get to “Be The Night”, dripping with biker attitude and some inspired soloing, the album proper is nearly over. I have not heard an album which clips by like this in a long while. Sweet is the sound of expectation being met, that's for sure.
There are two bonus tracks on offer here, “On So Long” is over nine minutes of doomy goodness, while “Crossroader” is a very catchy nod to Steppenwolf/Hendrix era rock. Quite simply, I can't find anything on this album I don't like. The best comeback of the year, without a doubt. This record will be turning up in many year end lists, without a doubt. It could even be the best album by The Obsessed, but only time will tell on that one. I can't recommend this highly enough.
“Sacred” is available here