A veteran figure in the world of underground metal, singer/guitarist Scott "Wino" Weinrich has slung his six-string for, most notably, the Obsessed and St. Vitus, but until early 2009, had never recorded under his own name. Then came Punctuated Equilibrium.
Flanked by Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and bassist Jon Blank (of Rezin), Wino assembled the stunning debut LP this year. It spotlights effortless musicianship, recasting '70s proto-metal as something new and exciting. It's heavy without being brutal, and smooth without being wimpy. It's the type of record that would sound at home on any classic rock station, sharing airtime with Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, and Led Zeppelin. Wino's leads cut ornate pathways through a hefty rhythm section, while his riffs stay simply effective and momentous.
During a recent stint in Europe, tragedy struck Wino's band. Wino described the sad situation like this: "With great sadness, I mourn the death of my brother and fellow bandmate Jon Blank who passed away unexpectedly this weekend. He will be greatly missed. I will continue as support for Clutch acoustic [as a solo acoustic act]."
Blank's death, of an apparent overdose, not only snuffed out his burgeoning talent, but cuts a big piece from Wino's band's musical mass. But it doesn't take away from the songs. Augmented greatly by their electric accoutrements, they're blues songs at their core. With Wino performing as a solo act, audiences could expect a new focus on the songs' simplicity and construction, less on the dazzle of Wino's dazzling electric leads and his rhythm section's barrel-chested heave-ho.
Even in the face of tragedy, Blank's untimely departure creates an opportunity for an even more intimate showcase of Wino's formidable talents, as well as providing a chance both for the musician and his audience to reconsider what it is that makes a good rock song. Stripped of their original context, the songs will have to stand on their own structure and conviction. Something they are entirely capable of doing. —Bryan Reed
Scott "Wino" Weinrich performs with Clutch and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster at the Music Farm (32 Ann St., 843-853-3276) on Tues. May 19. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $23, $20 (advance). Visit musicfarm.com and southernlord.com for more.