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Other than Bobby Liebling, the frontman for the long-running Pentagram, there is perhaps no musician more closely associated with Capital-area doom metal than Scott “Wino” Weinrich. The singer and guitarist, often referred to as simply Wino, began his career in the late ’70s when he formed the Obsessed, a suburban Maryland doom outfit that was a major influence on a number of popular musicians, including several members of Fugazi. Scott Kelly, the singer and guitarist for Neurosis, is another one of Weinrich’s admirers. After being asked by the doom legend to form a new band, Kelly, a punk-metal powerhouse whose own music is distinguished by an aura of gravitas, began documenting the collaboration in a series of blog posts that read more like the work of a hopeless fanboy than that of a fellow musician. “He is a true warrior for sound,” Kelly wrote of Weinrich in January. In the interest of transparency, Kelly has good things to say about his other bandmates as well. Shrinebuilder, which was assembled by Weinrich over the phone, also includes Al Cisneros, the bassist-vocalist for the spiritual drone duo Om, and Dale Crover, the drummer-vocalist for revered sludge act the Melvins. It’s no wonder that Kelly feels “humbled and honored” by the experience. Unlike so many supergroups of the past (Asia, Traveling Wilburys, Minuteflag), Shrinebuilder is actually as good as the sum of its parts. Sometimes the division of labor is obvious. At the beginning of “Solar Benediction,” the first song on Shrinebuilder’s self-titled debut, the band alternates between a brisk blues riff, reminiscent of Weinrich’s work with the local trio Hidden Hand, and a doom-laden chord progression that could be easily mistaken for Neurosis. What follows, however, is something new. Five minutes into the track, one of the guitarists introduces a simple three-note motif, to which the other responds with waves of atmospheric—and really quite lovely—feedback. The section, which is instrumental and long enough to be a standalone song, sounds like nothing either guitarist has done before. The same goes for “Blind for All to See,” a rhythm-section-dominated track to which Weinrich and Kelly contribute
Eastern-sounding ambience. Even a composition like “Pyramid of the Moon,” which seems as if it was begun by Kelly and completed by Cisneros (in other words, a mashup of Neurosis and Om), is, on closer inspection, full of Weinrich’s bluesy flourishes. How they achieved this level of nuance in the three days it took to make Shrinebuilder is anyone’s guess. What is certain is that, no matter how quickly it was created or how casually it was conceived, this album is a career highlight for all. —Brent Burton