Thursday, January 08, 2009

Punctuated Equilibrium
Southern Lord

Without warning/I explode! asserts Scott “Wino” Weinrich on what is, incredibly, his first solo album. Unsurprisingly, Punctuated Equilibrium feels like a culmination of the singer/songwriter/stringpounder’s work through nearly three decades of groundbreaking power trio heaven in Spirit Caravan, the Hidden Hand and the legendary Obsessed. (Not to mention side trips as singer for Saint Vitus and second guitarist/writer in Place of Skulls for a single album.) That means this record is overflowing with thick, melodic heaviosity, from the acid-drenched sludge of Eyes of the Flesh, the political grunge boogie of Gods, Frauds, Neo-Cons and Demagogues and the jazzy wahgasm of Wild Blue Yonder to the ass-kicking sneer of Smilin’ Road, the spiritual crunge of Secret Realm Devotion and the forthright power rock anger of Silver Lining and the title track. Plus there’s the dreamy e-bow job Water Crane, which is a path I don’t remember Wino ever having taken in the past. Not sharing responsibility (bassist Jon Blank and Clutch drummer Jean Paul Gaster take their orders like men) suits Wino well – the record feels more uncompromised than anything he’s recorded since the Obsessed days. If the man’s ever done bad work, I’ve never heard it, but Punctuated Equilibrium is the most vital and creative music Wino’s spewed in ages.

- Michael Toland

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