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As someone who has always been attracted to the doom-and-gloom side of music, I have been constantly looking for extremely depressing metal bands with meaningful lyrics, which meant doom metal was clearly the best place to look. After going through the basic non-sludge bands - Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Pentagram, Trouble - I oddly hadn't checked out Saint Vitus. Which I regretted the moment I put on this album and read the lyrics - it has everything I love in my metal; it's slow, gloomy, dark, and the lyrics about depression and addiction are tackled just as superbly as I want them to be. Why the Hell did I never know about these guys before??
I'll start with lyrics. Prior to this album, I always associated "doom metal" with the fantasy-horror of Sabbath and Candlemass, a lyrical theme I truly can't stand (though in the case of these and a lot of bands, the music more than makes up for it). Now THIS is how lyrics should be done. Metal should be about the real-life horrors such as depression, addiction, death, war, and so on. I don't want to hear about fairies or romanticised Vikings, I want to hear about how fucked up the real, present-day world is. Whether or not you can relate to them personally is irrelevant - a great band should be able to get you interested regardless. And these lyrics are exactly that. Just look at the song "Dying Inside", about alcohol addiction:
"I can't control my addiction / I've tried time and time again / I'm losing all my friends and lovers / Alcohol knows it's gonna win"
The lyrics are effective enough alone, but Wino's vocal delivery is nothing short of majestic. But the absolute best lyrics come from the song "The Lost Feeling", where the touchy subject of clinical depression is perfectly conveyed in no finer way: "I'm taking over / I'll snap your mind in two / I'll make suicide seem / Like the right thing to do / You try to drown me / With alcohol and pills / But in the end you are / The only one that kills". This is one of the greatest things about doom metal - it tackles real depression and real problems with class and dignity, not the whiny bitching of contemporary emo bands trying to appeal to the masses.
The music on the album, as the review title shows, is very simplistic even by doom metal standards, and is built up mostly of fat, chunky power chords. But I have never been one to look for technical complexity over emotion, and I'm sure most doom metal fans aren't either. The purpose of this album is to deliver depressing lyrics that - to quote writer and vocalist Wino Weinrich - "grabs you by the balls", which this truly does perfectly and is matched by few others.
Now, this album should have a higher rating than 95% the way I've described it, but there is one massive flaw in this album; the production fucking sucks. I mean it. The guitar tone is awfully thin and not really that heavy, plus there is a flanger/wah pedal effect that is used really badly. The mixing is just bad. These are fantastic musicians at work here, but whoever mixed this did a shitty, shitty job.
'Born Too Late' is arguably Saint Vitus' best offering, and one of the very best doom metal records you can possibly find. This was the band's first record without original front-man Scott Reagers and the first record featuring Wino operating as Reagers' replacement. At the time Wino joined Saint Vitus, guitarist Dave Chandler didn't really trust him with the pen and paper, nor the riffing, so a lot of the music present on 'Born Too Late' had already been written by Chandler alone, when Reagers was still in the band. Later on, however, Wino would write songs as well as craft riffs alongside Chandler (see later albums with Wino i.e. 'Mournful Cries', 'V' and more recently 'Lillie: F-65'). The fact that a lot of the music present on this album had already been written prior to Wino joining, is certainly not a bad thing. Wino would prove to be a very worthy replacement for Reagers and made the songs his own with his husky baritone-vocals.
'Born Too Late's title-track starts the album with doomy greatness. A song about being different, being alienated from the modern society and refusing to give in and become one of the rest. Dave Chandler's riffs are slow, dirty and fuzzy as usual and sound as if they're being played through a cheap, old amp that's on its last days. Chandler's leads and solos are also as crazy and wild as always. The mixture of Hendrix and Iommi spiced with some less-virtuoso-esque hardcore punk makes Saint Vitus' guitar-tone and style very unique and instantly recognizable.
But Dave Chandler isn't the only instrumentalist that stands out, as "Clear Windowpane" starts. This song is very percussion-driven. Armando Acosta plays some very tribal-esque drums while using a fair amount of cymbals. Chandler's riffs are simple and a bit more punk-influenced (faster) than on "Born Too Late" with some wah-soaked Hendrix-esque leads thrown here and there. This of course compliments the oddness of the song's lyrics that are an obvious nod at drugs. "Purple dragons smoke with me.... I have friends only I can see...." and so on...
Mark Adams' bass also has its moments. "The Lost Feeling" is all about depression and suicide by alcohol and pills. The music, though, is very pleasant despite being dark. It's got a dark atmosphere, but it's somewhat warm, too, because it's got a somewhat relaxed vibe to it. This comes down to the slow and warm bassline that starts the song and Wino's whispered vocals. In between come the "louder" bits. The guitars come booming in and Wino sings in his usual-louder, whiskey-soaked voice. I usually compare "The Lost Feeling" to Black Sabbath's "Hand of Doom", because it's got a similar vibe: warm, relaxing and atmospheric, but with lyrics covering some darker and more sinister shit.
This album has got everything you want from a great doom metal record. The production is a bit better than on previous records, that is a bit clearer, but it's by no means crystal clear and crisp. The music is great. The guitars are heavy, dirty, at times loose and wild, and have a good amount of psychedelia to create a weird, dark and twisted atmosphere. The bass isn't flashy, but in a song like "The Lost Feeling", it shines. The drum-work is sort of like the bass; nothing too flashy, but stands out in "Clear Windowpane". Wino's vocals are an acquired taste. But once there, they're highly enjoyable. His old-man voice is perfect for the rambling madness, that is the lyrics about drugs and alcohol, and I don't think that Reagers' crazed-wizard vocals would be as fitting to the lyrical topics here as Wino's are.
'Born Too Late' is also fairly accessible, but not as accessible as, for example 'V'. But it's arguably Saint Vitus' strongest release along with their self-titled debut album and 'Die Healing'. Definitely the best Wino-era Vitus release, though the later albums with Wino are also most excellent.
Album highlights would have to be the opener "Born Too Late" with its insanely memorable riff and lyrics, "Dying Inside" with its infectious and melodic main-riff and "The Lost Feeling" for it's "warm darkness", if that makes sense.
What is that noise? Is that pick sliding? In doom metal? You're about to hear a lot of it; and probably one of the best [if not THE BEST] doom metal album ever created. As the drums kick in, I will reveal to you this - Saint Vitus are the masters of doom.
Everyone says Black Sabbath started doom. Bullshit. They showed the world it was ok to play shit loud, crazy, insane. To let your inner demons out. Bobby Liebling heard Black Sabbath's records and was instantly inspired to create his own doom, Pentagram. Blue Cheer also inspired many doom bands throughout the years. The music had such a dark and depressing atmosphere that they didn't know what to call it, other than "Heavy Metal". But as bands like Trouble, Witchfinder General and Candlemass started to emerge, another band was in the works. And these doom metal titans were called Saint Vitus, properly named after the Sabbath song, "St. Vitus Dance."
They released their self-titled album as well as Hallow's Victim with Scott Reagers. He left the band in 1986, and was subsequently replaced by Scott Weinrich [Wino]. This album is the first featuring Wino on vocals, and he proves that he fits amazingly into this hell of a band.
"Clear Windowpane" shows us a fun and almost catchy side of doom metal. Though the lyrics might scare away conservatives [but who gives a fuck about them anyway?]. As you are continually pummeled by Adams' bass and Acosta's percussive elements, Dave Chandler fucking SHREDS throughout the solos. Its like nothing I've ever experienced. Imagine a Sodom solo in a doom metal song, without as many tremelos and Teutonic influence. That's pretty much what you get with these solos. No real melodic direction, just solos that fucking melt your face off. Another fun track is their cover of Black Flag's "Thirsty and Miserable," which is a FUCKING masterpiece. The sounds of belching and beer cans can be heard as the song begins, instantly pummeling you with Vitus riffs. They had such a thick and heavy sound back then. I personally prefer Wino over Reagers. But again, that's my personal taste. A note worth mentioning: about halfway through "Thirsty and Miserable", Wino bleats out one of the coolest things Ive ever heard in a doom song
"Its 1:30 and we're getting nervous
Cuz the stores close at 2:00
And there's not enough...to last us...
*Cue awesome doom solo*
This is what I love about Saint Vitus - the guitar isn't the only instrument glorified. Throughout the ENTIRE record you can hear the bass audibly and present, pummeling away at these excellent songs. Overall, an amazing album that EVERY metal fan should have. Enjoy it if you pick it up; you will not regret it.
"LETS BREAK IN THE FUCKIN' LIQUOR STORE MAN!!!"
"What about the liquor cabinet"
"FUCK THAT, IMMA BREAK IN!!!"
Out of all the metal bands to come out of Los Angeles back in the days of real metal, Saint Vitus was one of the least popular bands. They weren't like any of the other bands from L.A., they weren't glam metal, thrash metal, crossover thrash, or even regular heavy metal. Saint Vitus was known as doom metal. This album is very good and very unique. There is plenty of the doomy feeling that you would expect from Black Sabbath to be found on this album.
The music here is very cool, the constant slowness may turn some people off, but this is great metal. The guitars are very droney and are often not melodic. A lot of the ominous riffs that Dave Chandler throws at us would sound very fitting on any early Black Sabbath album. But his guitar solos are often much faster than the pace of the song, this sometimes makes the guitar solos sound a little out of place. But the guitar solos are very good and manage to work fine. The guitar doesn't sound really heavy, but it works for this type of music. Wino has a clean vocal style that fits the ominous feel of the music very well. There is no high singing on this album, the vocals are a little on the deeper side. The drumming is slow and tribal and fits in with the droning guitar very well. The bass is kind of hard to hear over the guitar, but it sounds fine on the occasions that you do hear it. The production is fine here, nothing to complain about.
Even though all of these songs are slow, some are more ominous sounding than others, while others tend to be just slow. "Born Too Late", "Clear Windowpane" and "H.A.A.G." all sound like they should be on Black Sabbath's "Master Of Reality" album. They all contain Black Sabbath type song structures and lyrics, especially "Clear Window Pane" on its quicker parts. "Dying Inside" has an overall sad sound with a lot of eerie droning riffs, and a guitar solo that's much faster than the rest of the song, although the solo does tend to be a little sappy at times. "The War Starter" is also a bit on the sad side too, but just a few riffs here and there. "The Lost Feeling" is a little ominous, but is mainly just very slow with whispered vocals. The bass is more audible on this song than any other song here, enough of the time you only hear bass and drum.
I think that this album is definitely worth checking out simply due to its unique nature. I wouldn't exactly recommend this album to everyone though. This isn't your typical metal album, this isn't the kind of metal that will get you head banging, this is more like relaxation metal. I think Saint Vitus might be a bit of an acquired taste to some, but they are the kind of band that doesn't take too long before you start liking them. Give this one a shot, you might be surprised.
You stand half drunk in a fairly empty bar, the room is choked with smoke and your mind is hazy. Aimlessly, a band stumbles out onto a small stage. They're clearly twice as drunk as you are, but they're obscured enough by the smoke to still appear quite mystical, even if they are unshaven and dirty. The mood is right for Saint Vitus. The members awkwardly shuffle around for a few moments trying to find a comfortable speaker to lean against as the guitarist clumsily slams on a chord, the room shakes. But instead of a monstrous thud, the room is suddenly filled with a thick fuzz which echoes and reverbs off every surface, and all is right in your blurry, queasy world...
The creation of this imagery is the entire goal of Born Too Late, and it does this with a success rate higher than the percentage of mornings Wino wakes up with a cracking hangover. The music is simple, slow, very loose, and most importantly full of distortion and fuzz. And I mean slow; unlike just about everything doom related around this time, this album never picks up the pace to hit us with a regular heavy metal riff. Unless you've got the version with the disappointing Thirsty and Miserable EP on the end, you won't find a riff on here which could be called out and out midpaced. It feels dirty, booze-fuelled and oddly light hearted, and it works.
This is pre-90's doom, so this music isn't about being depressive, but it’s different from their contemporaries because it doesn't try to be totally awesome. Bands like Sabbath, Candlemass, and Witchfinder General spent a large portion of their time being awesome with big loud fist pumping riffs and a driving heavy metal attitude, but Saint Vitus don't do this. The riffs are too fuzzy to really illicit much in the way of headbanging and the songs are all slow paced. Instead Born to Late breaks down into a mix of 20% badassory, 20% light hearted fun, 20% comedy, 20% apparent lack of caring and the rest is made up of more guitar fuzz.
It's kind of hard to put a finger on it, but something about the album is just a little bit goofy, really good, but goofy. It comes from a mix of the lyrics, vocals, frequently sloppy performance, song structures and even the ridiculous bright pink cover art, and it certainly adds charm, but I honestly can't tell whether it's supposed to be funny, or if they just didn't take much care in keeping things sensible or professional. The line 'I have things growing in my hair' sums this up perfectly. I can't tell if it's an out an out joke, a shitty lyric, the first rhyme Wino could think of, or a badass display of metalhead devotion. This sentiment is mirrored in just about every element of the music.
Born Too Late happens to provide a little known effect which I personally love. It's one of those occasions where you simply cannot tell if a band knows what they're doing, or how to play their instruments properly, but you don’t care. It's sloppy, messy, and even the solos which could feasibly be considered technically proficient, could just as easily be dismissed as Dave Chandler frantically bashing away on his bottom three strings as fast as he can with a little to no thought given to musical structuring. The vocals are in the same boat, with a sound which is a mix of being awesome and completely not giving a shit about being in a band. Wino pretty much sounds like Jack Black impersonating Ozzy, I don't mean this in a derogatory way at all, it's just what he sounds like. Hell, when he emphasizes lines, such as his shouts of "Warrior!" in the War Starter, he sounds exactly like he'd fit in Tenacious D without any trouble. Again, it’s surprisingly enjoyable despite it’s inherent silliness.
It's not a bad voice by any means, but it's hard to take too seriously. As Wino whines (Does that count as a pun?) about his countless and severe drinking problems, I can't help but see him sitting in front of the microphone, half a bottle of scotch in one hand, half a bottle of gin in the other, and great big drunken smile on his face. It's either a tragic ignorance of a desperate plea for help on my part, or its fun as hell, and I hope and believe with all my drunken heart that it's the later.
The guitar work is the key to this album though; Dave Chandler fuzzes and plods his way throughout the brief 30 minutes this album runs for. It's simple and sloppy, but the production is a tremendously inviting buzz and it works. The riffs themselves tend to have more in common with stoner doom than straight ahead doom, the main riff to album highlight ‘Dying Inside’ in particular sounds like it may well have influenced about half of Dopethrone. They're simple, usually only consisting of a couple of notes, but the production and guitar tone takes most of the riffs to another level. Chandler's solos are messy noisey shredfests, but they're undeniably fun and rocking. The appeal is much the same as early slayer solos, they run right past the line between crazed speed and senseless chaos, yet somehow don't feel as senseless as they likely are.
However, this isn't a perfect album by any means, or even a traditionally great one. Without the production taking them to a whole different level, most of the riffs on the album wouldn't really amount to much. The song structures are usually roomy and sprawling, and on songs like the title track and ‘Dying Inside’, it works to great effect, and the songs develop smoothly, but a few of the songs just sort of drag on with no real purpose. On the flipside, ‘Clear Windowpane’ is oddly brief and never seems to go anywhere. The lack of real ball-grabbing riffs does also harm Born Too Late's ability to hold the listeners attention. As I've mentioned, the lyrics are really quite poor, and most of the performances seem to have an element of similar carelessness. It adds to the stoner doom feeling, but it is pretty sloppy.
Born Too Late is a solid album with a guitar sound more addictive than any form of alcohol or drug abuse, but due to the riffs they have to work with, it's this booze fuelled attitude that both makes this album what it is, but also keeps it from being truly magnificent either. It’s an album which should be heard by any doom fan, not just because of its huge importance to what followed, but to learn the true meaning of what a fuzzed out, drunken album should sound like.
Along with 1989's "V" and the 1984 self-titled effort with original vocalist Scott Reagers, this 1986 effort is frequently seen as one of the strongest efforts that the doom metal scene and heavy metal in general has to offer. It is also the first album to feature the Obsessed/Shrinebuilder vocalist Wino Reinrich, who brought in several changes with his signature sound.
Musically, the album brings in a newer direction while still clinging to the band's signature doom-oriented sound. Wino proves to be a more than competant vocalist and stands as a good contrast to Reagers' more melodic/epic vocal style, bringing in a voice with many similarities to classic Ozzy Osbourne. The riffs also seem to have become slower and heavier to match the vocals, effectively matching their idol's aesthetics and recalling such albums as "Master of Reality." The production also seems to have improved in comparison to previous efforts and adds to the album's pummeling effect.
While the songs are generally routed in slow tempos and bleak atmospheres, they are still packed with a good deal of variation. The title track and "Dying Inside" are storng mid-tempo anthems, "Clear Windowpane" brings in a bit of 60's psychedelia, "H.A.A.G." is a more upbeat number with a slower middle, "The Lost Feeling" serves as the album's "Hand of Doom" with an overall soft sound, and "The War Starter" finishes in a particularly plodding fashion. The title track is probably my favorite song of the lot with its ringing chords and infectiously chanted chorus making it an essential listen.
The lyrics are also packed with a lot of variety and simultaneously feature an interesting mix of depressed feelings and a tongue-in-cheek attitude. Each song seems to have its own unique theme with the title track serving as one of the band's odes to the doom metal scene, "Clear Windowpane" and "Dying Inside" respectively dealing with smoking and alcholic use, "H.A.A.G." and "The Lost Feeling" featuring themes of depression and isolation, and "The War Starter" leaving little to the imagination. Definitely an interesting move when compared to the more generic themes of the band's first two efforts...
With this album and the band in general barely receiving its due, I heartily recommend this album along with just about everything else in the band's discography. There are very few flaws to be found on this particular effort and it contains just about every standard that nearly every doom band continues to live by.
1) Good change of musical direction
2) Cool lyrical themes
3) Improved production
1) May be too slow/simplistic for some
2) Wino is something of an acquired taste
3) "The War Starter" isn't quite as strong as the other tracks.
My Current Favorites:
"Born Too Late," "Clear Windowpane," "Dying Inside," and "The Lost Feeling"
I had a conversation a few years back with a friend who was quite a 60s Psychedelic era junkie, the sort who modeled his philosophy after the famed “What would Jesus do?” people, only exchange Jesus for Jimi Hendrix. Every conversation about guitar playing, or music in general focused around the messianic Hendrix, with plenty of speculative ventures into just what he’d be doing today if he hadn’t died so young, to the point of sheer annoyance at times considering how many great musicians have either been his contemporaries or have since cropped up in the rock and metal scenes respectively. Suffice to say, we’re not friends anymore, but if we were I think I may have found the answer to his question in Saint Vitus’ signature, and arguably their greatest album “Born Too Late”.
Granted, in order for this to work Jimi would have to step back from the microphone, a craft that he was never anywhere near perfecting, get a vocalist with a deeper and fuller voice, and concentrate solely on his axe work, while adding about a decade and a half of muddied, gravely slow, woeful darkness and cynicism to his riffing approach. Perhaps it is a little too much of a stretch for most who are really into doom metal, but every single time I hear Dave Chandler cut across the fret board with that blinding, messy as hell, fuzz and wah pedal driven, yet still mostly pentatonic based soloing approach, I can’t help but feel as though the spirit of the 60s guitar icon is being channeled pretty extensively.
But putting aside my past experiences with obsessive retro 60s hipsters, “Born Too Late” is arguably the purest and greatest representation of the traditional doom metal sound, with perhaps the exception of Trouble’s “Psalm 9”. It takes the bleakest and slowest elements of Sabbath’s multifaceted 70s career, exaggerates the dark guitar tone, simplifies the bass and drum approach to something less jam oriented, and places the vocals right at the helm. Recently recruited vocalist Scott Weinrich lacks Ozzy’s nasally character and his predecessor Scott Reagers’ higher register, but proves to be beyond formidable in delivering a hopeless narrative with the conviction of a zeal-steeped preacher through his thick baritone register.
The songs are structures in the most basic of manners, throwing out 3 or 4 extremely simplistic, trudging riffs to slow the listener’s heart rate while Weinrich fills up verses with words of discontent, be it regarding social stigmas, politics, or depression. On many an occasion, Chandler will pipe in between a limited series of droning, blues driven riffs to impress the ears with a wild mixture of speedy leads and guitar noise. Be it the punishing slowness of the bass driven ode to depression “The Lost Feeling”, the stagnated flow of sludge paying homage to Sabbath’s “Hand Of Doom” in “Dying Inside”, or the somewhat faster rocking and swinging “H.A.A.G.”, the formula is consistent and results in an album that takes Metal to an extreme far different than the more mainstream thrash sound of the same time period.
Many might wonder how doom metal made its way from the early 70s sound of Black Sabbath to what is heard out of later bands such as Electric Wizard and Eyehategod, “Born Too Late” marks a significant shift away from the upbeat 70s rock sound that is attributed to others in the scene up to the mid 80s. The band’s association that the with the hardcore punk scene, particularly that of Black Flag, almost seems to be predicting the eventual rise of the sludge sound that came a bit later on. But what separates this from those who wandered out of the traditional paradigm is the treatment of the guitar as a lead instrument, for one could almost argue that had Hendrix lived an additional 16 years or so and had been swept up in the underground doom current, this is what it would sound like.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on February 9, 2010.
Born Too Late is Saint Vitus' first album to feature Scott "Wino" Weinrich. His vocal prowess fits this band right down to the ground. The rhythmic tritones contrast his pitch in such a way that it epitomizes what doom should sound like. Basically, what you are hearing on this album is electrified and down-tuned Mississippi Delta Blues. The eponymous Black Sabbath album back in 1970 sounded much the same.
The title track is a wonderful downer about alienation and paranoia. Slow and bleak, it captures a sort of washed up rock dinosaur mentality which is all the more suitable since I mentioned above that these guys emphasize vintage. The classic guitar solo towards the end gives the song shape and the mood is hopeless desperation. The next song to follow is the deliciously Hendrix-ian Clear Windowpane. It sounds a little more upbeat but make no mistake, this album is about pills, boozing and depression so Born Too Late is doused with all the psychological shades of a sallow kaleidoscope. It's a song that reminded me a lot of Manic Depression. My only criticism of it is the overuse of the distortion pedal to mask not so clean playing of the guitar solo. But the highlight song is Dying Inside. Wino's singing is dead on Ozzy wails. He hits the perfect tone and with the lyrics, the song could be a mini bio of Mr. Osbourne's well documented drug history. It would be funny if the song didn't sound so dire. H.A.A.G. is another crisp doom-filled trip into disillusionment of the stoned road to oblivion. The reciprocal tempos here would make Tony Iommi jealous. Except for the slow break in the middle, the drums maintain the same beat patterns but with varying speeds along the curve of the overall pace which I found most impressive.
If H.A.A.G. was the denial then The Lost Feeling is the detox. It sounds quite similar to Sabbath's Hand of Doom with it's bass opener and demonic doomsayer lines. As if chemical dependence and imbalance weren't enough to consume you, there is the song The War Starter to remind you that this is a world of woe with mankind in the throes of ending it. It has a trippy mid section of solos with warm fuzz distortion underpinned by one mammoth bass riff. A good song to end the record but not quite the best of the track list.
After every play through of this album, I always ask myself one question: How is my mental health? I'll know after the nth listening to this album but so far my sullen stars are aligned with the ball of light at the end of this drugged out tunnel that the songs on here sing about. Born Too Late is doom done right. It sounds like it was recorded in the 1970's which is one attribute I look for in doom metal. Another is a euphoric psychedelia that pervades the soundship that Black Sabbath and Pentagram made as their calling card for this kind of music. It's not a very long album but that is fine. Every song is quality and there are no qualms as a result. It's a shame the Wino era didn't last very long as this is probably the best incarnation of Saint Vitus. Anyone who calls himself a doom aficionado must have this record within short reach or be given short shrift.
Following the release of a now very rare EP in The Walking Dead, Scott Reagers bowed out of his vocal slot in the mighty Vitus. So who to replace him? Who could possibly deliver a voice with as much personality? The answer came in the addition of former Obsessed man Scott “Wino” Weinrich, who singed on in time to record the band’s third full-length effort. Born Too Late marks other changes in the Vitus sound. Wino’s deeper and somewhat more professional voice ushered in a tightening up of the band’s trademark psychedelia drenched approach to doom. This sharper, brighter sound cost the band in terms of the raw personality they’d been so swathed in earlier, but Wino’s song writing abilities brought a higher batting average of quality material.
Was the trade off worth it? That’s for you to decide, but it’s hard to argue with songs as strong as “The War Starter” or the mega-slow but unbelievably memorable title song. Dealing with the outcast position the members of Vitus themselves found themselves in as far as straight society was concerned, this cut is as true in these conformist times as it was upon it’s release. “Dying Inside” addresses the topic of drug addiction with doomed resignation, a problem that would haunt Vitus, and the entire doom community to the present, revealing a self-aware streak in guitarist Dave Chandler’s song-craft.
Staggering ever onward to report on existence and it’s moldy underside, Vitus log here another successful report back to the home-front. Bless them and their doomed mission. By the way, this may be the best metal album with a pink sleeve in the entire history of the genre!
I have started on the good side of the doom metal genre, as I was recommended the band St. Vitus on another internet forum as a good band to begin the genre with. I am pleasantly surprised this time, and will continue to immense myself within the crushing experience of doom metal. However it should be known that this release is not perfect. What good would a review be that doesn’t analyze the faults of a piece of art?
This release seems to want to alienate itself from the fakeness of the world that surrounds it, and open itself up only to those who have a similar mind as the creators of this work of art. The members seem to want to lose themselves in their own universe, and live according to only how they see fit and not give in to the temptations of the crowd. Another way they show this is by showing how they use drugs to escape from reality. This may not be the most positive way, but it seems to work for them.
I can identify the position I take on this album by citing the lyrics from “H.A.A.G”. Which identifies humans as having “moronic wit” or maybe accusing the leaders of the world giving humans all the weapons they want to destroy the planet earth with, but the humans are to blame as they readily take action and destroy themselves as St. Vitus looks on in horror (as seen in the “War Starter”.)
However there are also positive feelings on this album. As the members look for ways to change their drug addictions like for example, from the song “Dying Inside.” I believe the members just want the world to change for the better and think that current society is pretty messed up. They seem to contradict themselves though with how they write their music. Maybe their music was created to show what civilization will be like if we tread down this current path, which brings me to my next point.
Feeling like you’ve been left in a desolate barren land with nothing around for miles, St. Vitus crushes you with the bareness of desert landscapes and flowing down a never ending psychedelic river of the conscience when they are noodling around on their guitars without any real riffs, and just dissonant melodies.
The noodling around on the guitar this time doesn’t bother me however, I think it adds to the experience of getting lost in the mire of the album, and trying to find your way out. When you’re done with “Born Too Late” you’ll feel as if you’ve taken one long pilgrimage, and the spiraling into infinity adds to your overall enjoyment of the experience and you’ll be glad that you took the time to take the journey which cleanses your mind and soul.
The vocals remind me of a man tormented from living in this world so he must howl out his emotions and pain to express the rage that he feels at himself and everyone else, but mostly at himself. He wishes he could disappear “into the void.” These lyricist blame mankind as whole for the trouble that we are in.
As a heavily emotional and rebellious piece of work (what great metal isn’t?), it refuses to conform to society standards and therefore it lifts the individual over the crowd. My personal favorite tracks are the title track, “ H.A.A.G” and the Black Flag cover.
What you will find here is a Doom soaked, hard as fuck, rocking Metal classic. This album just overall exudes all that is great about Doom Metal. The only reason I didnt rate this at 100 is because of the cover, I just dont get a pinkish purple (?) cover with a cross in the middle... I'm not wholely against it as I just dont get it, but what ever a cover is hardly anything when you consider the awesome music here.
One of the strongest aspects of this recording is its accessible voyeuristic, almost purgative, lyrical approach which allows the listener to wholely tap into the feelings, and meaning within all the songs (if you can relate to it). This is a very American album in this respect, and as a side note, I've come to believe American music seems to be generally, when considering all modern music forms, the most accessible by a large margin (well discounting the English). Also the singers voice (Wino that is) does nothing to hinder the accessability of the songs (if this is your schtick), and meanings,... and rather the opposite is done in most all parts,... as conviction, and originality mean alot. Also it goes with out saying that accessiblity usually goes hand and hand with replay-ability, and this album for me is always finding its way into the mix. The lyrics mostly deal with human emotions, problems, disassociation, and what not,... perfect for the disillusioned youth (fitting, and great title I might add) to connect with (find escape within), as its done with such integrity, prowess, and reverence.
Nearly entirely at a down beat, mid paced, early 70's rocking tempo (think Sabbath, Pentagram) the rythms on here are slow, and with a fairly passive air to them in parts, but still retaining a firm warm crunchy tone in the guitars, and thanks to the perfectly fitting production a feel you cant exactly get anywhere else. The guitar patterns seem to be based on a bluesy, simplistic, Hard Rock/Traditional Metal format, but at a slow, low end punch type tempo, which is quite similiar to early Black Sabbath stuff, and which this band does exceptionally well. Sitting just under the voice, and leads, the guitars, and drums do nothing but hold the rythm, as flashyness seems to find an antithesis here, even though the solos are very well executed, and optimumly plentiful.
Overall a highly impressive release from a highly consistant band. If you enjoy this genre this is a must. Probably accessible to fans of 60's and 70's Hard Rock, Traditional Metal, Doom, NWOBHM, and just Metal in general.
Born Too Late - Dying Inside - The Lost Feeling - Thirsty And Miserable