Legendary band get it together for the first time over 20 years

Scott “Wino” Wenrich is a man that must get up in the morning thinking about heavy, doomy metal. He then spends his days making it and probably his nights playing it live.

The indelible mark he has made on the history of downtuned sounds can never be doubted. Whether it is in Saint Vitus or Spirit Caravan, few – if any – do it better.

Before any of that, though, was The Obsessed. He formed the band in the late 1970s in Maryland, left to join Vitus, went back to in the late 80s to stick out the debut record they’d recorded years before, split again and reformed last year.

Kinda.

This new line up contains only “Wino” from the originals. The new lot includes his longtime friend and former road crew member Brian Costantino (Drums),Bruce Falkinburg (Bass) and Seraphim (Guitar) – and in so doing makes it the first time they’ve played as a four piece in 35 years (the touring band is different, but that can wait.

What can’t is be put off any longer is the discussion on whether “Sacred” – just the bands fourth record – is any good. The answer, unequivocally, is yes indeed!

Kicking off by going back to the future as it were the title track of their first 7inch single “Sodden Jackal” reminds everyone that if they need to crush The Obsessed are not going to be found wanting.

That said, the rest of “Sacred” concerns itself with less monolithic ideas. “Punk Crusher” is simple hard rock, but is enlivened by a wonderful guitar sound and the not inconsiderable fact that Wino sounds better than ever.

Everything about this is shot through with the type of class that only legendary figures can muster. The title track casually puts every one of the new breed of desert rock bands in their place by showing them how it gets done, while “Haywire” is a punk rock freak out which just wants to have fun and isn’t too interested in how it manages it.

Elsewhere, the grooves are mighty as you like. Nothing that gets in the way of “The Perseverance Of Futility” stands a chance and one of the shorter ones “It’s Only Money” has the kind of feel of that other wonderful Maryland band , Clutch, covering Thin Lizzy at their heaviest – that, for the avoidance of doubt, makes it very good indeed.

“Cold Blood” is an instrumental excuse for riffs, “Stronger Things” adds acoustics and the feel of the swamp to its chugging sonics and in so doing becomes a real highlight here. In fairness, though, the swinging “Razor Wire” – which is rock n roll that is filthier than a band this vintage should manage  – takes the honours. Wino is incredible form, suggesting at various points that he “would rather get high than pay the rent” and “took a couple of pot shots at the local CI” over glorious, fuzzy licks.

By the time the last proper song “My Daughter, My Sons” finishes off with something downright primal, there can be little doubt that what we are dealing with is something pretty special.

The band may be approaching sacred, but “Sacred” lives up to that legacy.

Rating 9/10