Wino - _Punctuated Equilibrium_
(Southern Lord, 2008)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (8 out of 10)
Hard to conceive that after a quarter century of captaining some of the most legendary ensembles the world of hard rock / metal has to offer -- The Obsessed, St. Vitus, Spirit Caravan, and, most recently, The Hidden Hand -- this is the first proper solo album by Scott "Wino" Weinrich. Of course, he was always the mastermind behind any group he lashed together, but Wino's genius was always that he recognized the strengths of fully collaborating band members rather than using hired guns or session musicians. Even here, Wino culls the superlative Jean-Paul Gaster from Clutch, and the only thing keeping this from being a full fledged supergroup is that the trio is rounded out by bassist Jon Blank from a group most people -- myself included -- will never have heard of, Rezin.

As expected, Wino is not treading new territory here... he still sets his sails exclusively within that devil's traingle of doom, southern rock and smoked out stoner psychedelia. That's all right. If it's not inconceivable that any of _Punctuated Equilibrium_'s ten given tracks might have been written and recorded with one of his prior bands... well, those were his shoes to be filled as much as anyone else's. If the album has any failing at all it's that -every- song sounds like an outtake from one of his old bands, and since there is a range of sounds there from mainstream '70s rock to sludge-like doom, none of which are really intermingled to any great degree, the record does have a sort of hodgepodge, anthology-like feel to it.

"Eyes of the Flesh" and "Silver Lining" are dead ringers for St. Vitus, "Gods, Frauds, Neo-Cons and Demagogues" pairs up with "Secret Realm Devotion" to represent the Hidden Hand's southern fried paranoia, "Wild Blue Yonder" reaches out to nostalgic Spirit Caravan fans... the other half mixes things up a bit with a heretofore unseen melodic accessibility a la '70s FM rock, but since all of these influences are carefully bracketed off into their own individual traicks, _Punctuated Equilibrium_ can be a divisive listening experience when plowed through from start to finish. Still, there are pretty solid new tracks regardless of how they came about, and Wino has never had a drummer as gifted and intuitive as Jean-Paul Gaster to work with, so this is no less essential in spite of its to-a-fault diversity.


(article published 15/4/2009)

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