Review: The Obsessed ‘Gilded Sorrow’

I’m going to gloss over the fact that living musical legend Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich formed the iconic and pioneering doom band The Obsessed in the year that I was born and simply talk about how the fledgling band, whose leader’s musical journey was inspired by The Beatles and irrevocably changed by Black Sabbath and The Stooges.

The Obsessed 'Gilded Sorrow' Artwork
The Obsessed ‘Gilded Sorrow’ Artwork

Having formed as a four piece, the band would experience many fluctuations in line up and ultimately disbanded in the mid-eighties for Wino to go on and join the no less legendary Saint Vitus. Following a trio of albums on Hellhound Records the label would also release the 1985 recording of The Obsessed’s self-titled debut album, which in turn would prompt Wino to reform the original band.

Without delving into history, the rest is pretty much without a need for explanation or coverage. The Obsessed blended Weinrich’s love of old school Sabbath blues rock with the snotty, DIY danger of the punk scene, earning him the respect and worship from both, even if the commercial success of the band never quite matched the fervent adulation of their fans.

Let’s face it, you don’t get dubbed ‘The American Lemmy’ if you are a shrinking violet who plays timid music and Wino’s gritty, streetwise metal was amplified by his loner, rebel status, meaning in a scene full of pretenders, he was/is the real deal.

After the hiatus between 1994 and 2011 The Obsessed re-emerged and began, despite a series of line-up changes, to make new music and play high profile festivals finally getting the love they rightly deserved.

Having established the line up around Brian Costantino on drums, Chris Angleberger on bass, Jason Taylor on guitar, and Weinrich at the helm, The Obsessed are truly back to continue their mission and now release the follow up to their 2017 Relapse Records album Sacred with their awaited fifth full length Gilded Sorrow as part of their new collaboration with Ripple Music.

Commenting on the album itself Wino remarks ‘I think it’s the heaviest thing I’ve ever done. Heavy in a sense as not just sludge heavy, but well-rounded. And it sounds fantastic’.

The album also forms a statement for their continuing legacy. Not resting on their laurels, it looks to invoke the spirit of their past, but keep things fresh, adding the atmosphere and attack of the dual guitar pairing of Wino and Jason Taylor.

After a tentative opening, the album starts with the powerful sounds of Daughter Of An Echo, the downtuned guitar work manifests with trademark bluesy riffs and squalling lead bends that has a satisfying chug of Sabbathian proportions over which Wino croons and bellows in his rich, but gruff vocal style. The urgency of the track increases as it approaches the pre-chorus refrain and scorching solo, the vocals become more impassioned which only becomes more apparent with each pass.

Complete with a few new tricks from the old dogs, the stylistic twists and turns add depth and gravitas to the powerful message…

It’s Not OK quickly turns into a huge boogie laced groove. The vocals are almost half rapped, half spoken word with flashes of high drama as the tempo shifts. Seemingly caught in this moment, the title refrain is repeated as Wino cites instances of things that are not okay.

These churning rhythms once again showcase the dark melodies The Obsessed seem to summon at will which keeps that gritty edge to the music. Somehow the track manages to have a low-key vibe, yet it is infused with make-your-head-nod catchiness. 

After that, the band breaks out into an echoey, almost classic rock territory on Realize A Dream which combines rich melodies with a robust stomp and spacey interlude. Never the most polished of singers, Wino’s vocals cannot detract from the passion he injects and here the twin harmonies of the Wenrich and Taylor really start to shine, like seeing your beloved old car restored and given a new lease of life. Perhaps with a fancy new stereo or chrome rims for good measure.

The downbeat, smoky haze of the title track by comparison starts at a slow crawling pace with an unsettling discordant solo, before the breakdown with tribal drumming cuts the song in two and ushers in a doomy, droning atmospheric second half that is thick with swirling progression.

The preview single, Stoned Back To The Bomb Age, is The Obsessed at their most overtly doom. Over the pounding rhythm and guitar flourishes Weinrich spits lyrics about the follies of the modern age. Super heavy as threatened, the track is everything they set out to achieve on Glided Sorrow, highlighting an updated sound without straying too far from the core of what makes them who they are. Complete with a few new tricks from the old dogs, the stylistic twists and turns add depth and gravitas to the powerful message.

Building from a serene sounding intro Wellspring-Dark Sunshine morphs into a deliciously murky, plodding doom assault. This slows even further and once again the twin guitars steal the show, especially when the change in tempo allows them to stretch the melody.

Jalline is back to the rush of the classic rock feel of earlier. Here the up-tempo pace and underlying belligerence harks back to the punk-influenced NWOBHM era sound, combining melody and an air of danger and defiance to the music despite the vocal harmonies.

This contrasts with the beautiful intro of Yen Sleep which is a masterclass in powerful storytelling that grows in menace as it progresses, before the fleeting instrumental Lucky Free Nice Machine closes out Glided Sorrow like a bridge between what has just happened and the possibilities of the future.

Ultimately there’s no one like Wino and to be staring down the barrel of my 46th birthday listening to a band the same age producing timeless music that still manages to sound fresh, powerful and vital…? That’s an endorsement that needs no gilding.

Label: Ripple Music
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden