Ever felt overwhelmed by an artist’s extensive back catalog? Been meaning to check out a band, but you just don’t know where to begin? In 10 Songs is here to help, offering a crash course and entry point into the daunting discographies of iconic artists of all genres. This is your first step toward fandom. Take it.
When it comes to doom metal singers, there are three untouchable legends: Ozzy Osbourne, Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling, and Scott “Wino” Weinrich. From his humble start as a teenager playing in heavy bands in Maryland and the DC scene, Wino moved to LA and went on to front Saint Vitus during the band’s prime years on SST Records in the late ’80s. Since then he’s led many bands, such as The Obsessed and Spirit Caravan, and been involved with countless side projects, establishing himself as an iconic figure in the world of doom and stoner rock.
He’s dealt with his share of conflict, succumbing to sporadic drug abuse throughout the years and most recently getting busted with meth in Norway while touring with Saint Vitus. But despite his downfalls, there’s a very human side of Wino that comes through in his singing, guitar playing, and lyricism. In a word, he’s got soul. He writes about his emotions and the darker parts of life that we can all relate to, whether it’s addiction, heartbreak, or a corrupt government.
This past weekend at Thief’s Psycho California festival, Weinrich fronted Bedemon for their first-ever live performance. Considered the first American doom band, Bedemon is a Pentagram offshoot that featured Liebling’s vocals, which were performed by Wino. In light of this awesome collaboration, I went through the Wino songbook and chose the 10 tracks that best define him as an artist, from his earliest work in The Obsessed to his most recent acoustic albums. It’s hard not to hear him as the protagonist in his own lyrics, so in many ways, these also speak to who he is as a person, weaving a biography of songs about a journeyman singer who just keeps on keeping on.
The Obsessed – “Sodden Jackal” (1983)
A 16-year-old Wino formed The Obsessed (originally Warhorse) back in 1976 when he lived in rural Maryland. The band remained active until he joined Saint Vitus in 1986, recording an EP and a shelved album for Metal Blade Records. “Sodden Jackal”, a ferocious cut of nihilistic doom metal, comes from that first EP. It sets the template for everything Wino would do thereafter. For ’83, it was too heavy, even for Metal Blade.