Is it really that terrible that my first thought upon hearing Shrinebuilder was, “Fuck man, this is what the Wino solo album should have sounded like!” But Shrinebuilder is so much more than that. It is the dream lineup, ultimate fantasy football roster, Yalta Conference of doom; it may truly never get better than this. Wino Weinrich (Obsessed, Saint Vitus) on guitar, Dale “God” Crover (Melvins) on drums, Al Cisneros (OM, Sleep) on bass, and Scott Kelly (Neurosis) on guitar — vocals are shared between all four. Are you fucking kidding me? Read that last sentence again and again and again, let it comfort you like a warm blanket. Four men who are each in their own way responsible for keeping doom, metal, what-the-fuck-ever fresh and weird for decades all coming together to record an album. In three days. Much like the recent Harmonia/Eno album that was recorded in a comparatively slothful 11 days, it appears that with a certain type of creative mind it’s best to let the initial impulse guide you. Trust your first instinct. The session yielded five tracks that sound remarkably focused and fully-formed (much more than you’d expect from five strong personalities). Amplifier worship in the vein of Trouble and Pentagram looms large, as does the hymnal holiness of OM, to say nothing of hoary psychedelia and quicksilver blues.
Shrinebuilder is not nearly as rough and violent as one would expect; emotion and subtlety are the watchwords. “Sonic Benediction” is a Sabbathian dirge giving way to a spacey, beautiful coda, full of calming, liquid soloing. “Pyramid of the Moon” radiates gorgeous, measured holiness like OM, with freaked-out solos and head-nodding pacing. “The Architect” is shuddering, groovy as fuck doom, with an ace Wino vocal that nails all the soaring Ozzy-isms, a cool one-note guitar riff, and a rhythm section that hits every note perfectly, adding a complex spine that you don’t even notice at first, but then think, “The hell, these guys only played together for a few days???”