"Lunar Womb [reissue]"

(Meteor City)

01. Brother Blue Steel
02. Bardo
03. Hiding Mask
04. Spew
05. Kachina
06. Jaded
07. Back To Zero
08. No Blame
09. No Mas
10. Endless Circles
11. Lunar Womb
12. Embryo

RATING: 9/10

Without diminishing the impact of this revered classic at all, it's only fair to say that Scott "Wino" Weinrich has topped "Lunar Womb" at least a few times since its original 1991 release. Hell, OBSESSED swansong "The Church Within" is arguably better, and definitely sounds more kickass. And the man hasn't let up since, releasing quality stuff in SPIRIT CARAVAN, a brief tenure with PLACE OF SKULLS, and into the present day with the insanely good combo THE HIDDEN HAND. So why should you care about "Lunar Womb"?

Because it's fucking awesome, that's why. The roots of almost everything in stoner rock can be traced back to the soulful, mournful chords of songs like "Hiding Mask" and "Back to Zero". While purists (and even liner notes writer Joe Carducci) prefer THE OBSESSED at their doomiest, the band always had a punk streak in them, in attitude as much as sonic construction – check out raveups "Bardo" and "No Blame" for full-throttle, lyrically defiant middle fingers to a scene that didn't (and largely still doesn't) give a fuck. There's some sweet jamming in "No Mas", as well as some progressive tendencies in the meandering headtrip "Jaded", showcasing that these guys knew what the hell they were doing.

All of it, though, is imbued with that desert-baked, hallucinogenic, heavy-lidded and black-hearted doom sound. Wino is the kind of guy who can find one damn chord that'll make your stomach drop like you're on a roller coaster, and give you goosebumps (check the chorus of the classic "Endless Circles" for just one such chord change). Not discounting the other players here — Scott Reeder (who just put out a mind-blowing solo album this year) went from THE OBSESSED to KYUSS, and drummer Greg Rogers later showed up in GOATSNAKE. Reeder sings lead on two songs here, and adds some creepy mouth-wah-and-water effects to close out the album on an ominous note. Interesting to see that, despite his reputation as the omnipotent leader of all his bands, Wino was delegating to his able sidemen even this far back!

Thank the metal gods that this is no longer some eBay-only Holy Grail — music this important deserves to be in print and available on the record store shelves (though I know a few of you will still not rest easy till you've got the original Hellhound Records pressing in your grubby mitts). But "Lunar Womb" isn't just worthy as some dated nostalgia trip – it smokes a good chunk of the riff rock that came after it, and still holds up today as a damn fine listen. There's not a bad track in the bunch, and the supercool denim-and-dirt vibe this thing gives off has aged just fine, like good whiskey. Essential.


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