Interview with Scott “Wino” Weinrich of The Obsessed

This week The Obsessed, one of the oldest metal bands from Washington DC, is releasing their first album in 23 years, Sacred. Needless to say I’m pretty excited about this so I got in contact with the band’s main man, Scott “Wino” Weinrich, and conducted this phone interview with him on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17 of 2017. We talk about the new album and he has some great stories of being in a metal band during the hey day of the harDCore scene. The interview is a bit under 17 minutes long and you can stream it by clicking the orange play button below, you can download it as an mp3 here, or you can read the full transcription below. As always my words are in bold.

Scott “Wino” Weinrich has been in a lot of bands over the years: Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan and Shrinebuilder to name a few. However he is currently leading the revived version of the Obsessed who are releasing their new album, Sacred, on Relapse Records on April 7th [get it here]. It is truly an honor to have one of the legends of not only doom metal but [also] of our area’s metal scene with me on the phone today. So to start things off Wino, can you tell me why you think the time is right for the Obsessed to release Sacred, the band’s first album in 23 years?

I’ve done some reunion shows over the years and I’ve been asked to do quite a few but nothing really felt right until me and Brian Costantino reconnected after 30 years. When we first met he was our friend and our drummer’s tech and he helped us drive on the road and stuff. After the original Obsessed folded way back when, I didn’t see him for 30 years. In that interim he learned how to play drums, quite proficiently I will add, and through one weird circumstance or another we got a chance to jam and when we got a chance to jam the magic happened and that’s when the Obsessed was truly reborn because finally the chemistry is just perfect. So really the fact that me and Brian reconnected is really fucking amazing and so I feel completely re-energized and very inspired.

Is there a reason you decided to go with Relapse to release Sacred?

They offered us a really kick ass deal. We got a really, really good deal from them. All the people at Relapse now are completely behind us. A lot of fans, a lot of friends and they offered us a slammin’ deal and they have treated us wonderfully. I’m totally, totally satisfied with the deal and I’m very excited to top off this release of Sacred they’re also re-releasing the first Obsessed record, the self titled, in a couple months and we put together a slammin’ package man. All this cool live stuff, some demos and a bunch of really cool pictures and such. I’m really happy with the label.

Cover of Sacred by The Obsessed

Cover of Sacred by The Obsessed

So how do you think the band’s sound has changed since the release of The Church Within in 1994?

Well to be honest with you, I think that Sacred is actually the best sounding record that I’ve ever done in my career thanks to Frank Marchand, he’s also known locally as the Punisher for his live sound work and stuff. But, believe it or not, the record is [recorded] all digital and I think that Frank has an amazing command of the digital realm but also the digital realm has increased to where it’s just phenomenal now. It’s a combination of the old and the new because the whole record was recorded digitally but we used a whole crazy lot of really cool old vintage equipment like, Frank had, and his studio had, an arsenal of old Les Pauls. I mean it was like an orgy of Les Pauls man. And then he also had like all these killer, old like boxes and boxes of vintage foot pedals and vintage effects pedals. He had a vintage rotating speaker and not to mention the drums. He had so many cool vintage snare drums, we picked a [different] snare drum basically for sound for the vibe. It was pretty amazing.

I saw you had that EGC guitar you pulled out, with the aluminum neck, in a few shows. Did you use that on Sacred at all?

I did use that quite a bit on Sacred actually. That was one of my favorite guitars but it’s also my go to guitar. That guitar is just nothing short of amazing. It’s completely aluminum, all the way, it’s neck through. That was given to me as a gift for some production work I did with my friends from Tennessee in a band called Navajo Witch and I must say that’s actually one of the finest gifts that I could have ever received. I love that guitar. It’s my go to guitar. That guitar has what I call a slutty neck, haha. Man I’m telling ya, I really like thin necks as far as like the depth goes. It’s got a radial neck actually. It changes a little bit as it goes along but I’d say that guitar is perfect. That guitar I nicknamed Heavy Mama because it’s actually, it’s broader and heavier than an actual real Les Paul. So I call that guitar Heavy Mama, haha.

Wino playing Heavy Mama

Wino playing Heavy Mama

Now I know the Obsessed has gone through a lot of line up change recently. What exactly is the line up on Sacred and is that also the band’s current line up?

No. God, let me tell you what’s happening to dispel any confusion. OK. We were doing Spirit Caravan for a minute, you know a year or two ago, and after we dissolved Spirit Caravan, that’s when me and Brian reconnected and we decided to call the band the Obsessed, OK. So Dave Sherman brought his gear over and basically that was the line up that we did for the Obsessed. It was me, Dave Sherman on bass and Brian Costantino on drums. Ok so that was the line up on Sacred, me Brian and Dave, right? And then OK, through the one reason or another, there’s some issues in the studio and also some issues live, we decided to part ways with Dave Sherman. So then I tried a little experiment where I re-enlisted the help of Bruce Falkinburg, the bass player from the Hidden Hand, and my fiancé at the time, Sara Seraphim, on bass and second guitar, respectively. And it was actually pretty cool, we did four or five shows that I thought were pretty fucking good but when the touring commitment came up, the reality of what a rock and roll band really is, people showed their true colors pretty quick and when Bruce asked us to replace him, Sara left. So basically, I then called my old friend Reid Raley, which is what I should have done in the first place because he’s a true road warrior and a great musician, and I’m telling you what, the chemistry right now is fantastic. The band is me, Brian Costantino and Reid Raley and that’s the way it’s going to stay. This is absolutely, in my opinion, the best line up of the Obsessed ever. The best chemistry and man I’m telling you what I’m fucking feeling psyched.

That’s great man. So who was on the album then exactly?

The album was me, Brian and Dave Sherman.

Ok cool.

But we parted ways with Dave and did our little experiment with a four piece but now we’re back to a three piece with me, Brian and Reid Raley. And Reid Raley played bass in a band called Rwake from Arkansas and he played in a band called Deadbird but then he also played with me [in the Obsessed] in 2013 and we did like four or five shows. We played Maryland Deathfest. We played Power Of The Riff in LA. We played a couple Scion showcase shows and another club show in LA so me and Reid actually have some history but he’s a fantastic bass player.

The Obsessed at Maryland Deathfest XI

The Obsessed at Maryland Deathfest XI

Ok thanks for clarifying that for me. One other question I have with the line ups is now that Dave Sherman is gone, are you guys still going to play any of the Spirit Caravan songs live or are you just going to stick to the Obsessed material?

We will eventually, probably be working in some of the Spirit Caravan material because, one thing I want to point out is, when the Obsessed was signed to Columbia Records in the 90s and we did The Church Within, we never got our second record. But the songs that were going to be on the second Obsessed record [for Columbia Records] were the songs that were the bulk of the material that became [the Spirit Caravan debut album] Jug Fulla Sun. “Lost Sun Dance,” “Melancholy Grey,” “Fear’s Machine,” “No Hope Goat Farm,” those were all Obsessed songs because of the fact that we didn’t get our second record, you know with Columbia that, when I put Spirit Caravan together those songs kind of pulled over. So we’ll be working those songs into the mix. Right now what we’re doing is our live set that’s coming up in April, we’re going to be playing about an hour and fifteen minutes and we’ll play like seven new songs of the new record and then the rest is old stuff but you can definitely count [on hearing] some Spirit Caravan stuff I mean, we’re going to be doing eventually. Eventually we’re going to be doing “Brainwashed,” “Lost Sun Dance,” “Dove-Tongued Aggressor,” and stuff like that.

The Obsessed formed in the DC area in the early 80s and I’m really curious, what was it like being in a metal band, particularly a doom/stonery kind of metal band, at the time when DC’s music scene was really dominated by the rise of the DIY punk scene.

Well it’s an interesting and good question. Right at that time that I gone down to this little club in DC called Beneath It All and pitched the manager there, he was like an outlaw biker, pitched him on the Obsessed and so we were down in this little hole in the wall in DC playing three sets a night OK? Now during that time, that’s when I met Sab Grey from Iron Cross, John Stabb from Government Issue, Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins would all come down to see us. They loved our originals but they hated the fact that we were doing punk covers but I tried to explain to them, we had to play three 45 minute sets a night so you know, we were throwing in a couple of our favorite Dead Boys songs and shit like that to try to make up the time. The bottom line is, straight up, we had to prove ourselves. We had several high profile gigs where the Obsessed, actually we supported the Dead Boys on their first reunion tour, in DC. We supported the Bad Brains in the hey day of the green red ROIR tape. You know what man we really had to prove ourselves but I think we did. I can remember one stand out moment for me is when there was this punk rock hipster bar in DC in those days called Carmichael’s. And so there was a guy who ran a record store in town, he was a punk rock kid but he also came from a metal background, and me and him connected because he heard my song “Concrete Cancer” on Metal Massacre VI and he said, “oh man that song reminds me of Captain Beyond.” So me and him struck up a friendship and he was in a band called Lethal Intent. His name was Doug Caldwell. Unfortunately he’s passed away but Doug would always call me up to get the Obsessed on punk rock shows and so on any given day we were supporting the Exploited, I remember one time Dave Grohl’s band Mission Impossible supported us when they were all like skinhead kids. We played with Faith and we played with Scream a lot. But I remember like on this one occasion we were at this club called Carmichael’s trying to gig. We were supporting Iron Cross and the PA fails. So instead of stopping or crying, I just said “fuck it, let’s go” and I just screamed out the words with no PA and we just stepped everything up a notch a little bit pretty fast. That’s when you know the singer for Iron Cross came up to me and said, “Ok that’s when I knew you guys were real.” So we definitely had to prove ourselves. You know the way I looked back then I had more of a death/glam kind of look. At any given time I would be called Eddie Van Halen or take some shit but I’ll tell you what man I was there for the music and if somebody got in my face I was ready to fight. No problem.

Haha. Now I have heard a rumor that it was none other than Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi fame that put you in contact with the guys in Saint Vitus. Is that true? Did he actually introduce you to that band?

He didn’t actually introduce me to the band but he did mention them to me and put the seed in my head and so when they came through and played a little club called DC Space I went down to meet them and that sort of did set the ball in motion a little bit. There were some other circumstances but yeah. Ian MacKaye was very instrumental. He told me straight up, he goes, “there’s this band on SST called Saint Vitus. You’d love ’em,” and you know eventually I would join them. Ian MacKaye was the first person ever to use the term crossover. I remember he used to work at a record store called Yesterday Is Today and I used to go next door to get my hair cut all funky from this foxy ass hair cutter chick and then I’d have a couple brews probably and then I’d go next door to the record store you know. And Ian’d be in there working and the Obsessed first record had just come out and he said to me he goes, “man, you guys are really crossing over.” He said to me, he being a vegan, he goes, “man “”Forever Midnight”” man that song’s the meat and potatoes.” Coming from Ian MacKaye, to me, that was like the ultimate fucking honor.

Hahaha. That’s pretty cool.

Man I love that guy. I see him regularly. He’s a fantastic person. Ian MacKaye, I’ll tell you right now, has never wavered from his ideals once. Never once. All these other bands, you know all these other people I’ve seen them all falter but you know what? Ian MacKaye has never wavered from his core principles once and I have nothing but ultimate respect for him.

So this is in a different direction but is there any chance of any kind of Shrinebuilder reunion at any point? Do you think maybe new material or even just some live shows?

I told Al [Cisneros] and I also told Scott Kelly that I would always be up for it if they want. It’s really up to them. There’s a little bit of… ummm… there’s a little bit of bad blood that happened there for a minute, stupidly enough over money. One thing that I don’t really have much tolerance for [is] like arrogance or greed and I kind of think that with Shrinebuilder, I think that the desire to put money in one’s pocket kind of overruled what I thought should be the real core ethics of that band but that said I told both of those cats that I’m willing to do it if they are.

Cover art for Shrinebuilder and Adrift

Cover art for Shrinebuilder and Adrift

Back around 2010 I was actually going through some really tough times and your studio album Adrift actually really helped me a lot during a low point in my life so I’d like to say thank you for that.

Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

It meant a lot to me actually. Do you have any plans for any future solo releases?

Actually my main focus is totally on the Obsessed right now. I’m not in any other bands or anything. I’m not in Saint Vitus you know either, but I have been working on some acoustic stuff. I’ve actually got about four or five songs and hopefully in less than a year I would like to do another acoustic record actually. Yeah. Hopefully on Relapse but we’ll see. Hey listen, thank you very much for that though. I mean that’s to me, that was a very troubled point in my life too and Adrift was kind of me really letting off steam from some problems I was having and it’s way more rewarding to me to hear somebody say that the music helped them through than you know a bag of cash on the table you know what I mean? So I’m glad it helped you.

Yeah it really did. Now in 2004 another DC area guy had you guest on an album with him. You were on Dave Grohl’s Probot album on the song “The Emerald Law.” How exactly did that collaboration come about and did you know Dave already?

Yes. I knew Dave already and like I said before like, back in the early days Dave was in this killer punk rock band called Mission Impossible and we used to refer to Dave as the Kid. Everybody knew that the Kid was the premiere fucking drummer and he was fantastic man. But anyways, Spirit Caravan, I was on tour in Europe and I got a call from my wife at the time and she said, “Listen you know. Dave Grohl’s people just got in touch with me. They’re looking for you. He sent some music to you. He wants you to do something.” So I got back into town, I got the rough tracks for “The Emerald Law.” Ok it wasn’t titled, it was just the music. It was the basic tracks. It had a guitar track, drums and bass and basically then I talked to David and he said, “I’m doing a record with all my heroes,” and let me tell you I was very, very honored to be considered that and to be considered for the record. And as I listened to the song, it was right up my alley and he said he wanted me to title it, write words for it, sing it and play some leads. So basically, at the time I was deep into my research. I was really getting into some esoteric stuff about the Emerald Tablets of Thoth and stuff. So basically I put together the words and stuff and um, we were going to do it at Dave’s house with his studio but he left his studio machine on while he was on tour for six months by accident so [he] burned it out so he said, “hey let’s meet at Inner Ear,” the Dischord studio of legend you know where everybody recorded all their shit, all the DC bands. David came down with his producer friend and basically I showed him the lyrics that I had written for the song and the title “The Emerald Law” and he liked it. So I sang it and um, came time to play the solo and he was standing in the control room just going “more, more!” like that one part in “Emerald Law” I just hold that shrieking note you know. He’s like, “yeah! yeah! yeah!” He’s like totally enthusiastic right, but the end of the song there was just something missing at the beginning. So I suddenly realized, what I say at the very beginning of the song, the speaking thing. “I do not die but awaken to the dream I lived.” That is actually real, ancient Babylonian that was transferred from cuneiform by Zecharia Sitchin. I was reading a book by Zecharia Sitchin, one of the few people who could actually translate and read cuneiform, which is Babylonian writing on stones. So that’s an actual ancient Babylonian verse there that just fit so perfectly at the beginning. I get chills when I think about it man. So I was overjoyed to do that too, and honored. I really was.

So do you have any plans to tour or at least play in the DC area to support Sacred coming up?

Yes we start our tour on April 12th and we’re going to go from coast to coast and on the way back in May we are playing in Baltimore. The 20th we’re going to be in Baltimore. But we’re also doing a listening party for Sacred and I’m going to play a short acoustic set up in Philadelphia on the day after the release on Saturday, April 8th at Kung Fu Necktie where there’s going to be a DJ and then we’re going to listen to Sacred in its entirety and we’ll have a bunch of records to sell too. The new record and all and then I’m going to play acoustic guitar for 20 to 30 minutes and then we take off on our tour.

The Obsessed at the Ottobar

So are there any bands from like the DC area or this kind of region, maybe DC, Baltimore, Virginia area that you’re a fan of?

I really like that band Cavern. I like a local band from Thurmont [Maryland] called Faith In Jane. Of course I really like Clutch.

I’ve gone through just about all of my questions here and I do thank you for your time. I do appreciate it. I’ve been running the DC based metal site for about seven, seven and a half years now and you’re one of the guys I’ve always really wanted to interview on here. You really are one of the legends of our metal scene. It’s really cool to say that you’re from our area. So one other thing. Is there anything else you’d really like to say to the fans about this new album Sacred that the Obsessed is releasing on April 7th?

Well I’d like to say thank you very much to everybody who believes in, and who has supported not only my career but this style of music and I want to thank you man for carrying the torch. I mean it’s a really beautiful thing.

Alright well thanks a lot for your time and it’s really been an honor so thank you a lot.

Alright man. This was a fun interview. Thank you.

Alright have a good one.

Bye.

Premiere of Lost In Time music video by Borracho

Cover of Atacama by Borracho

It’s the holiday season and what’s the best gift every year? New Apple products? World peace? Of course not! The best gift is brand spankin’ new heavy metal tunes! Washington DC’s own Borracho are three wise men who are stuffing your stocking with extra helpings of stoner riffage this year. Their brand new album, Atacama, just dropped today and you can download it digitally ($8) or get it on CD ($12) from Bandcamp right here, right now! If recordings of these tunes just aren’t enough for you be sure to catch Borracho in action at their CD release show on Thursday, December 15th at Slash Run. You can get all the details on that show here.

Can’t wait until the 15th for that sweet Borracho live experience? Well then you’ve got to check out the music video for their new song “Lost In Time,” one of my favorite tracks off of Atacama. This video was recorded at the Velvet Lounge on U Street and I’m going to have to warn you, if you’ve ever been a bit buzzed watching Borracho perform live then this video may trigger some flashbacks of the face melting kind! Well what are you waiting for, click play on the video below, crank it to 11 and drift off to the land of riff.

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats ticket give away

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats at Howard Theatre

Labor Day has come and gone, summer is over and it’s back to the real world after a long weekend. Not everything sucks though! This Thursday, September 8th of 2016, the UK based stoner band Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats are playing at the Howard Theatre (details here)! For you loyal DCHM readers that check in regularly, we’re doing a short running 24 hour contest to give away a free pair of tickets to this show! To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite concert of the summer was. If you didn’t get out to any (what?) then you can tell me which concert you’re most looking forward to. At 5pm EST on September 7th, this contest will close and I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Ticketmaster for $20 here.

That’s right, this contest is only open for 24 hour so don’t wait to enter! Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats have never played in Washington DC before so if you’re into stoner and doom riffage with some good, old fashioned serial killer obsession thrown in you can’t miss this one. Also on the bill is the rockin’ Danava and the psychedelic The Shrine opening. Now check out these sick Uncle Acid videos below and tell me what your favorite concert of the summer was!

Mind Crawler

Run Away Girls

Melody Lane

Black Sabbath at Jiffy Lube Live

I’ve been to literally hundreds of concerts through the years but there has always been something special to me about seeing Black Sabbath play live. When the band’s final tour, dubbed “The End,” came to Jiffy Lube Live on Sunday, August 21st it would be the last time they would play in the greater Washington DC area. Black Sabbath are the fathers of the metal genre and my favorite band, but they’re also so much more than that. They’re one of the few bands that every time they play, no matter how many other people are there, no matter how close or far I am from the stage, I always feel like they’re playing just for me. They’re the reason I am a metal head today, and probably the reason a lot of you are too.

I have a lot of memories seeing Black Sabbath play Jiffy Lube Live (formerly named Nissan Pavilion) in the past. The original Reunion Tour, when Ozzy Osbourne rejoined Black Sabbath again, which I never thought would actually happen, started its US leg there back in 1997. That’s right, we were the first in the US to see Black Sabbath on the Reunion tour. That was one of the early Ozzfests and I got my first tattoo at that concert to commemorate the event, the letters O-Z-Z-Y on my left hand knuckles. Ozzy played a solo set with his band and then came out and did a full set with Black Sabbath right after, I’ll never forget it. The only original Black Sabbath member missing from that tour was drummer Bill Ward on drums, he was tied up with other touring commitments at the time. Ward did complete the original line up when he performed with the band in 1999 when Black Sabbath again headlined Ozzfest, a farewell tour the band called The Last Supper Tour. Despite this they came back to play for us at Jiffy Lube Live/Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia, again in 2001, 2004 and 2005. Black Sabbath was forced to change their name to Heaven And Hell when the late Ronnie James Dio returned on vocals, and this version of the band also played here in 2008 on the Metal Masters Tour. When Black Sabbath released their album 13 in 2013, their first studio album with Ozzy on vocals since 1978, they toured to support the album and again played Jiffy Lube Live. Now, on another final tour (which, judging by their ages, seems pretty likely to actually be their last this time), Black Sabbath once again played for us.

It rained earlier in the day but it let up in time for the tailgaters to start pre gaming in the parking lot. I missed the opening band, Rival Sons, because they weren’t even a metal band and really shouldn’t have been on the bill to begin with. At the end of their set I did hear them thank “Bristow,” I guess not realizing that very few people at the venue were actually from Bristow. When Black Sabbath finally took the stage around 8:45pm I was excited. Hell, who isn’t excited when their favorite band plays? The short intro video ended and that iconic opening riff to the song “Black Sabbath” immediately demanded everyone’s attention. I had pretty decent seats, in section 102 on the aisle on the Tony Iommi side. Not lower orchestra but still I had a pretty good view and I was right by the sound board. They played a great set of older classics, though they left some big ones off. No “Sweet Leaf,” no “Supernaut,” no “Electric Funeral” (despite the Shepard Fairey designed tour poster heavily quoting and referencing that song, I still bought one for $40 anyways). Nothing at all from the albums Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage. Most surprisingly, their set list didn’t include even a single song from 13. They did play a few songs that weren’t really hits such as “Dirty Women,” “After Forever” and “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” (including the Wasp intro). Every song on the set list besides “Dirty Women” came from the first four albums but it didn’t really matter what songs they played, the riffs just keep coming with Sabbath.

The band doesn’t have the energy on stage that they used to of course. Even when Ozzy played those back to back sets in 1997 (was it really almost 20 years ago?!?!) he had more energy on stage than he does now. He had trouble singing in key Sunday night and even flubbed a few lines here and there, most glaringly missing the classic “I am iron man” line at the start of “Iron Man.” The video monitors had a slight delay, and half the time they used so many psychedelic effects you could hardly tell what they were showing. Other times they focused way too much on Not Bill Ward drummer for hire Tommy Clufetos, the only “member” of the band nobody at the show had actually bought a ticket to see. His extended drum solo during the Bill Ward drum solo song “Rat Salad” seemed to be a slap in the face to Ward and his fans. Geezer Butler was great on bass, no surprise there, but it was nice to see the guy’s still got it. He was getting some sick tones out of that bass too. And Tony Iommi, even after all these years, mutilated fingers and battling back from cancer, he still plays everything so damn smoothly live. I swear he could play those songs just as well in the dark. There were still a few new touches he threw in, like the bonus intro part at the start of the band’s perennial encore song, “Paranoid.” There’s a reason he is nicknamed the riff master and the night’s set was a showcase of some of his most classic riffs played to perfection.

This wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen Black Sabbath, but it was a great show. It really had me thinking about all the times I’ve seen them before, all the people I’d seen them with and the different places in life I was at each time. Black Sabbath wasn’t the first metal band I liked, I already had a few Metallica and Megadeth tapes and the like when I traded for a copy of Black Sabbath’s best hits album We Sold Our Souls For Rock ‘N’ Roll, but that album is what changed me from being a casual music fan to a die hard metal head. While Black Sabbath played songs from that album I thought about the day I first listened to it, I still remember. And I thought about how cool it was getting to interview and then meet Bill Ward in 2014, certainly the number one highlight of my time working on this very blog. I was hoping the show would never end because I didn’t want to deal with the cold, hard fact that I’ll never get to see them perform live again. But reality has a way of always winning out and time waits for no man. After the show ended the band all took a bow and Ozzy’s daughter Kelly came out on stage and shot a short video of the audience still going wild. I talked to a lot of people before, after and even a few during the show. Friends old and new, strangers, people who knew me from this website, random people crammed in line next to me while we waited to buy merch, drunks in the parking lot, everyone there to see Black Sabbath for one last time (or maybe even their first time). I had a great time and yeah, I’m bummed that I won’t have any more great times at Black Sabbath concerts, but I’m grateful that I got to see the band that started it all perform one last time for us and just for me.

Thanks for reading this. Below I’ve posted a few videos I shot at the show. I didn’t have a photo pass and these were all shot on my phone. I think the sound quality came out pretty good though. I hope you enjoy them!

Black Sabbath – N.I.B.

Black Sabbath – Dirty Women

Black Sabbath – Paranoid

Review of Dunsmuir by Dunsmuir

Band: Dunsmuir
Album: Dunsmuir
Release Date: 22 July 2016
Record Label: Hall Of Records
Buy on vinyl with signed lithograph ($24) from: Indie Merch
Buy as mp3 ($8.99) from: Bandcamp or iTunes

Cover of s/t by Dunsmuir

Dunsmuir is releasing their debut album this Friday. While the band’s talented line up has been getting a lot of attention, Dunsmuir stands up strong on its own merits. The concept album is a great launching point for the band. We lucked into getting an advance copy of the full album and I got DCHM writer Buzzo Jr to write the following review. Be sure to stream a couple tunes at the bottom of the post while you read it.

Dunsmuir is a newly formed heavy metal band whose self titled debut will be landing this week. While not an entirely local act, Neil Fallon, the frontman of Maryland’s own Clutch, is teaming up with legendary drummer Vinny Appice, formerly of Black Sabbath and Dio. Rounding out the lineup is Brad Davis of the desert rock band Fu Manchu on bass and Dave Bone of The Company Band on guitar. Having been in the works since 2013, Dunsmuir’s self titled debut is an ode to classic heavy metal, along with being a concept album about the fates of the survivors of a 19th century shipwreck.

Upon the first few notes of the album’s opening track, “Hung On the Rocks,” listeners can tell that they’re in for one hell of a good time. The main thing one will take note of here is that the tunes on this record are filled with a much more of traditional metal influence than vocalist Neil Fallon’s other outings like Clutch or the Company Band; both of which feature a heavy blues/punk/stoner rock vibe to them. This is by no means a negative however, as it’s always a pleasure to hear Neil’s amazing vocals regardless of the music around it. Vinny Appice’s drumming is the main star of the following track “Our Only Master,” with his hard hitting beats driving the head banging grooves onward, and at some points hearkening back to his tenure in the Dio era of Black Sabbath. The band’s traditional heavy metal influence becomes even more prevalent in my personal favorite track on the album, “The Bats are Hungry Tonight;” a grooving track that has guitarist Dave Bone playing Iron Maiden-esque galloping riffs and driving melodies backed up by Neil’s powerful voice. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Neil’s vocals, (as mentioned in my review of Clutch’s previous album, Psychic Warfare) and his instantly recognizable bellows are in part what gives Dunsmuir, and any other band he works with, a unique element that sets them apart from other rock and metal bands. The fast galloping pace of “The Bats are Hungry Tonight” soon give way to the slower “What Matter of Bliss,” a track oozing with doomy riffage and Black Sabbath worship. The slow eerie riffs soon speed up once again on “Deceiver;” a track that combines a great amount of Judas Priest inspired metallic riffs and an infectious chorus.

The grooves keep on coming with the tracks “…And Madness” and “Orb of Empire.” Neil delivers his trademark bluesy shouts and ruff barks alongside Vinny’s bombastic drumming and Dave Bone’s fuzz drenched riffs. The tempo comes slowing down once more for the album’s longest track, “Church of the Tooth.” Dave plays at a crawling pace, interspersing the dark atmosphere of the track with melodic guitar licks and is backed up perfectly by Brad Davis’s bass lines. The penultimate track “The Gate” is a great mid paced track full of hard rocking rhythms. The album comes to an end with “Crawling Chaos!,” which is by far the most sinister sounding track on the album. Neil finds himself switching between his usual melodic croons to an angry growl; all the while telling tales of Lovecraftian deities from another dimension. Lyrics such as “They rise from the desert, from the mountains, and waves, to swallow the sun, cast down their chains, they open their mouths and fill up their lungs, speak the unspeakable, with their terrible tongues” evoke a sense of mystery and wonder, as Neil’s cryptic lyricism often does. Neil’s shouts combine excellently with the bombastic drumming and the grooving riffs, bringing the album to a slow and steady close.

While it’s relatively short run time of 35 minutes may leave you wanting more, Dunsmuir’s debut album is not one you want to miss. Those of you who are fans of Clutch and Dio era Black Sabbath will love this record although they may miss Dio’s signature wails. Here’s hoping that a tour is in the works soon, because I’d love to hear these tracks played in a live setting.

The Bats Are Hungry Tonight:

Crawling Chaos!:

Review of The Obsessed at the Black Cat

Last night, Friday the 13th of May 2016, the old school local stoner band The Obsessed “reformed” at the Black Cat to kick off their comeback headlining tour. This isn’t the same line up of The Obsessed that performed at Maryland Deathfest XI in 2013, only Wino remains from that line up. In fact until recently this version of The Obsessed had been the latest incarnation of Spirit Caravan. Dave Sherman stuck around on bass and shared vocal duties in this version of The Obsessed (he had only played with Wino in Spirit Caravan before) however this was drummer Brian Costantino’s first show with the band under either name. The Obsessed might more aptly be called Spirit Obsessed or some other similar mash up as their set list consisted of both Spirit Caravan and The Obsessed classics.

The opener for the show is a personal favorite of mine, Karma To Burn. They’re from the hills of West Virginia and play a very catchy style of rock/metal somewhere between desert rock and stoner with a big helping of that mountain folk twang added. They are almost exclusively an instrumental band and their songs are simply titled numerically in the order they are written. I’ve seen them several times and despite line up changes they were as tight as ever with those catchy hooks and riffs that go up and down all night. They were a great band to start this show off.

Karma To Burn

Karma To Burn

The next band was Atomic Bitchwax, a more traditional stoner band from New Jersey. People seem to go crazy for this band but I’ve got to say they were my least favorite of the night. They had some cool riffs and grooves throughout but the bass was really muddy and the songwriting didn’t put all those cool parts together as well as some bands do. Stoner metal isn’t the hardest music in the world to play so songwriting ability really sets the top tier bands apart, unfortunately these guys just aren’t there. They weren’t terrible though, they definitely had some energy on stage, but by the time they were done I was ready for something else.

Atomic Bitchwax

Atomic Bitchwax

That something else came in the form of this new version of The Obsessed. I had seen Wino and Dave Sherman perform as Spirit Caravan at Hardywood Brewery in Richmond, Virginia back in October of 2015. While I had a great time at the show they played for two hours plus and by the end it was just too much Spirit Caravan for anyone but the most die hard of fans. However at the Black Cat the newly dubbed The Obsessed played a much tighter set with more cohesion. The mix of songs by both bands was a cool change up and the set was about 1 hour and 10 minutes or so, keeping it from going on too long.

The Obsessed

Wino with The Obsessed

The Obsessed songs have a bit more energy than Spirit Caravan, some of the drum beats are almost punk rock in nature and many of the songs are upbeat. This makes sense considering The Obsessed was originally playing around the area during the rise of the DC punk scene. In fact it was Ian MacKaye that introduced Wino to the guys in Saint Vitus years ago. Anyways, The Obsessed played an excellent set that kept the audience hooked all night. I even got video footage of a brand new song, “Be The Night,” that Wino said would be on an upcoming album. Apparently the band has played this song as Spirit Caravan before but I guess it is one of The Obsessed’s songs now. I hadn’t planned on writing a review of this show but it was just too damn good to ignore. This was the start of a long tour for them, it was fitting that it kicked off here in DC. I left super pumped and I can’t wait to see them again.

The Obsessed

The Obsessed

I’ve posted a few videos below of The Obsessed (including the new song “Be The Night”) and at the end a photo of their set list.

The Obsessed – Be The Night

The Obsessed – Freedom

The Obsessed – Sacred (Spirit Caravan)

The Obsessed – Skybone

The Obsessed Set List

The Obsessed Set List 5-13-16

Review of Awake by Lord

Band: Lord
Album: Awake
Release Date: 18 March 2016
Record Label: heavy Hound Records
Buy on CD ($9.99) or digital ($7) from: Bandcamp

Awake by Lord

Lord is a local band that I’ve been a fan of for some time here at DCHM so I’ve been excited we’re finally getting more songs from them. The following review is from DCHM writer Buzzo Jr who certainly has his opinions about the release. Be sure to give the songs a listen at the bottom of this post.

The Fredericksburg, Virginia, based stoner/sludge outfit Lord returns with their newest full length album Awake, following up their sophomore release Chief from 2011. The band has seen a few lineup changes in the past five years; with drummer Steven “Sven” Sullivan being replaced by Kevin Marimow, and Helena Goldberg (also of Virginia stoner/sludge band Akris) handing bass duties over to Chris Dugay. Lord’s third full length outing has them sticking with the familiar southern sludge they’ve been known for.

In a good amount of cases, an album’s production can be the key element that will make or break the listening experience. Lord’s newest full length is unfortunately a prime example of the latter. Awake has all the elements necessary to make a great sounding stoner/sludge album, but all of those elements are muddled by the album’s overall audio production. The first thing I noticed about the production was how raw it was. Now, raw production can work very well for sludge metal in some cases. Bands like New Orleans’ Eyehategod and England’s Iron Monkey utilize raw production to accentuate the harsh and nihilistic feel of their music. But with sludge bands like Lord who incorporate more melodic and psychedelic elements into their sound, an extremely raw production on the album will negate any of the effect they may have been going for. The guitar and the bass are the first two casualties of this. The riffs on all of the tracks lack a great deal of the punch that they had on Lord’s first two albums which is disappointing seeing as they had the potential to be absolutely crushing if not for the way the mix drowns them out, and the bass lines are almost inaudible for a majority of the running time. The guitar solos also take a hit; with all of the melody and feeling of them sapped away by how muddy the end result is. The drumming suffers from similar issues, with the pounding drumbeats we heard on their first two albums being replaced by a heavily muffled sound that really takes away from the overall experience. It’s definitely not as bad as Lars Ulrich’s tin can monstrosity from Metallica’s St. Anger album, but it’s definitely not the best I’ve heard from Lord.

The element that is most negatively affected by the raw production are Steven Kerchner’s vocals. The vocals on Awake alternate from multi layered mid ranged howls, low grunts, and high pitched screams. A glaring difference from the previous album Chief is the lack of the clean and melodic vocals that former member Helena Goldberg supplied; giving a contrast to Kerchner’s harsher vocal styles. The variety of Kerchner’s vocal deliveries is unable to overcome the fact that for most of the time the vocals on the album are drowned out by the other instruments and the raw haze that the production puts on the record. Out of all the vocal styles that Steven alternated between, his high pitched scream is actually the one that ends up sounding the best, due to it being the one that was able to cut through the rest of the instruments and become fairly audible in comparison. The one track on this album that did stand out to me however was “The Great Communicator;” an all acoustic track that showcases a great deal of southern influence in the guitar playing, along with a great vocal performance that sounds much better than on any of the other tracks, mostly due to the fact that there are fewer elements in the song, thus allowing the echoing vocals to create a hazy atmosphere that resonates along with the bluesy strumming of the acoustic guitar. “The Great Communicator” is a standout example of the potential the rest of Awake had, and hopefully they can learn from this and release a much better record next time around. However, I am very interested in seeing these songs performed live, as it’s likely that they will translate far better in a live setting. I’m sure “The Great Communicator” will be a great track to bust out at the midway point in the live show to bring in a more mellow tune. [Editor’s Note: Lord will be playing in Fairfax, Virginia, on Saturday, May 14th. Details here.]

Third time is unfortunately not the charm for Lord’s newest release, and if you are looking to get into them I would recommend that you start off with their Chief album instead (get it here). Here’s to hoping that Lord go back to the great production of their second album and give us a quality fourth release in the future.