Previously best known to me from the days when collecting sub-mainstream metal albums was high on my agenda, making St. Vitus an important discovery, on Freedom Conspiracy Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich reveals a hitherto unexpected side with his acoustic, country-ish songs.
With the album’s cover bringing to mind John Fahey there was a pretty good chance that what it contained wouldn’t be exactly doom metal but the clarity of tracks such as ‘Timeless Spirit’ was a real revelation. The duel guitar work & harmonising that the collaboration with Germany’s Conny Ochs allows for makes for some very effective yet sparse inclusions in the album’s 13 tracks, particularly on ‘The Dirt Floor’. Ochs & Wino previously collaborated on the Heavy Kingdom album from 2012.
Electricity & a bit of a quickening of pace come into the mix on ‘Heavy Heart’ as the guys kick it up a gear to tell a tale of love gone bad. As far as subject matter on the whole album goes though it’s safe to say this is one of the staples – you probably shouldn’t be on the gin and alone on a weekend night when playing Freedom Conspiracy.
Given Wino’s normally gruff vocals with St. Vitus, The Obsessed, Dave Grohl’s Probot etc. the singing here is on a par with the difference between Slipknot & Stone Sour. If asked to predict a contemporary that he’d probably sound like there’s a good chance that Steve Earle or Mark Lanegan would be high in the survey but his tones manage to be far lighter than either of them. Maybe he gave up smoking at an early age. Monster Magnet’s Dave Wyndorf is probably the best comparison, at least on the songs where his vocals really reach out (‘Crystal Madonna’ for one example).
Freedom Conspiracy isn’t, therefore, a driving album in either sense of the word & nor is it one you’re going to play at your housewarming but it’s a deeply considered work from two musicians on top form and one that further shines a light on Wino’s versatility. A good lesson in the art of not pigeonholing people.