The Obsessed & Cobalt

The Obsessed & Cobalt

Serpents Of Secrecy

Fri, October 27, 2017

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:15 pm

$18 ADV $20 DOS

This event is 18 and over

The Obsessed
The Obsessed
The Obsessed were formed in the late 1970's by teenage friends Scott Weinrich, aka "Wino (2)", (guitar) and Mark Laue (bass) along with drummer Dave Flood (aka "Dave The Slave") and guitarist/vocalist Johnny Reese in Maryland, USA. Over time, the line-up would fluxuate, with Reese leaving, and vocalist Vance Bockis and guitarist Norman Lawson passing through the ranks. Finally, as a trio consisting of Weinrich (now handling vocals and guitar), Laue, and Flood, the band released their debut 7", commonly known as "Sodden Jackyl". The band made a name for themselves in and around Maryland, even gaining a following in Washington DC's famous hardcore punk scene, and made an appearance on a "Metal Massacre" compilation. Flood was eventually replaced by Ed Gulli and this line-up recorded a tape together in 1985 but were unable to find anyone to release it. Faced with a lack of success and label disinterest, the group disbanded shortly afterwards. However, word of the band reached Saint Vitus, whose singer, Scott Reagers, had announced his departure from the band, and they asked Wino to join. The Obsessed tape began making the rounds in tape-trading circles and, soon enough, Hellhound Records, Saint Vitus's German record label, offered to release it. To support its release, Wino put a new version of the band, consisting of drummer Greg Rogers and bassist Scott Reeder (who replaced Danny Hood, who was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly after joining the Obsessed), for a tour. However, after the tour, Wino decided to quit Saint Vitus for reasons that remain a point of contention between Wino and Vitus leader Dave Chandler. Wino maintained that he received Chandler's blessing for the released of the Obsessed album and subsequent tour but upon returning home was unhappy with the new material Chandler was writing and upset that the band chose Don Dokken to produce their next album. Chandler claimed that he was apprehensive about the Obsessed project and that Wino lost interest in Saint Vitus because of it. In any case, the Obsessed was now Wino's full-time band the group recorded "Lunar Womb" for Hellhound in 1991. Dissatisfied with Hellhound, Wino accepted a record deal with Columbia Records for the band's next album "The Church Within", which saw Guy Pinhas replace Scott Reeder. However, life on a major label was not much better. The label pulled promotion for the album just as it was being released and it was a commercial failure. The band soon split and, for a time, Wino sank into substance abuse. However, he eventually managed to clean himself up and, after living for a number of years in Los Angeles, returned to Maryland were he fronted Spirit Caravan and The Hidden Hand before going solo. In 1999, Southern Lord Recordings put together an odds-and-ends collection called "Incarnate".

In February 2016, Wino announced that his band Spirit Caravan would be adopting The Obsessed moniker while continuing to play material from both bands' catalogs.
Cobalt
Cobalt
For nearly a decade, since their great 2007 album Eater of Birds, Cobalt have been a peerless entity in the metal underground. Hailing from Colorado, original vocalist Phil McSorley—a one time active member of the U.S. military—joined forces with multi-instrumentalist Erik Wunder to create blackened metal that felt more dangerous than the work of so many satan-worshipping acts steeped in fantasy and make-believe. Their 2009 album Gin was dedicated to Ernest Hemingway and featured a picture of young military Hem on its cover; the record focused, in part, on the rugged masculinity of Hemingway’s life and writing, and it still stands as one of the best metal albums of the last 10 years.

After Gin made the rounds, Wunder relocated to Brooklyn and took a pause from Cobalt to work on his more psychedelic, rock-based project, Man’s Gin. At that point, it seemed like Cobalt might be finished, and in March 2014, McSorley announced he was leaving the group. But then the band announced that it was working on a new album with the singer. Adding to the confusion, in December 2014, McSorley took to Facebook, posting a rant filled with homophobic and misogynist sentiments. Wunder responded swiftly, kicking McSorley out of the band, saying he planned to continue with Cobalt with a new vocalist. Which he did, but only after returning to Colorado, a place that seems as important to Cobalt’s music as the men making it.

Slow Forever is the group’s first full-length in seven years, an 84-minute double-album that mixes Americana and Western themes (see: “Hunt the Buffalo”) with venomous crust punk, folk, noise, deranged rock anthemics, and black metal, among other things. The riffs are beautiful, the atmosphere dense but open. Songs tower at 11-minutes, echoing the mountains of Wunder’s home state. One track is called “Beast Whip,” and the title offers a good way to describe this music: It’s animalistic. But then, it’s also well-composed, progressive, and sharp. There’s not a wasted moment across these 12 songs, where campfire interstitials bleed into hardcore breakdowns, and American blues collides with blackened metal. It feels like political music for rural revolutionaries.


The new album features ex-Lord Mantis screamer and bassist Charlie Fell on vocals, and he brings a chaotic energy to the group that’s different than McSorley’s blunt invectives. His lyrics here are deeply nihilistic (“If I could be a fly on shit/ I could just get some rest”) and often violent (“Blindfold body bag and talk about God/ Suck the chair leg and bite the curb”). At times, they make me think of Faulkner or Bataille distilled to a few keywords: “Thirty years shit luck/ Hydromorphine/ Kerosene/ Anal sex/ Amphetamines/ Car crash/ Antidepressants/ Incest/ Depravity/ We accept / Bed smells like burnt foil/ Broken hope in a burning dream.”

Hemingway’s back, too. On “Iconoclast,” Wunder samples the author’s 1954 Nobel Prize speech, focusing in on the following lines: “Things may not be immediately discernible in what a man writes, and in this sometimes he is fortunate; but eventually they are quite clear and by these and the degree of alchemy that he possesses he will endure or be forgotten.” And, echoing the last album, gin remains Cobalt’s drink of choice. In “Cold Breaker,” Fell howls, “I can't trust anyone/ Hit the streets with the cloak and dagger/ Neon steam on a melting beam/ Pissing gin with your bath salt stagger.”

The lineup is different, and the viewpoint has shifted some, but the quality of Cobalt’s music remains. In fact, Slow Forever might be even better than Gin. It’s my favorite metal album of the year so far, and we’re premiering the entire thing below. I caught up with Wunder last week to discuss everything that went into the record.
Serpents Of Secrecy
Serpents Of Secrecy
Venue Information:
Metro Gallery
1700 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD, 21201
http://themetrogallery.net/