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Originally published at http://suite101.com
So after a couple years on the reunion tour circuit, doom legends Saint Vitus have finally released their first studio album since 1995’s Die Healing. Named after one of guitarist Dave Chandler’s favorite downers, Lillie: F-65 has been hyped for being the first Vitus release to feature singer/guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich since V came out in 1990. This album is also the first to feature drummer Harry Vasquez in place of the unfortunately departed Armando Acosta.
In a time when so many veteran bands are consciously channeling the sounds of their classic output, Saint Vitus has arguably come the closest as this album sounds like an honest extension of Born Too Late or Mournful Cries. The vocals may have a little less reverb of them than they did in the 80s but the production is fuzzy, distant, and consistently devoid of any modern polish.
Even though Wino’s vocals have been the focal point of hype, Chandler is the real star of the show thanks to his downtrodden riffs and feedback-driven solos. In addition, the rhythm section sounds great with the drums keeping their booming touch and Mark Adams’ bass giving solid backgrounds while the guitars go off on their distorted tangents. Wino himself also holds up pretty well and doesn’t sound too different from his early years; have the constant projects kept his voice in shape or has he always sounded like a withered old man?
If there’s one thing to nitpick about this release, it’s that it’s too damn short. Of course, this trope isn’t exactly new for Saint Vitus as the widely ignored C.O.D. was their only album with more than eight songs on it. You could get away with a thirty-four minute long full-length CD in the 70s or 80s, but that is pretty much considered to be an EP these days. Especially when you consider the fact that no song is longer than eight minutes and two of the tracks are instrumental.
But with that said, the material that is on here is quite awesome and very often reminiscent of Born Too Late. The lamenting lyrics and ringing chords on the opening “Let Them Fall” recall the timeless title track, “Blessed Night” is a drum heavy romp similar to “Clear Windowpane,” and “Dependency” plays out like the long lost sequel to “Dying Inside.” Those tracks all manage to be strong but “The Bleeding Ground” and “The Waste Of Time” may be the best thanks to their insanely memorable riffs.
As expected, the instrumentals aren’t quite as strong but still have some interesting ideas. While “Vertigo” has a trippy desert feel that is quick to remind me of Wino’s Premonition 13 project, “Withdrawal” builds off the brooding “Dependency” and has three minutes of pretty much nothing but guitar feedback. It would’ve been cool to see these turn into fully developed songs but they are pretty decent for what they are.
Saint Vitus’s eighth studio album may be a little too short for the modern age but there’s no denying that this still manages to be a pretty damn strong release. The solid riffs and old school aesthetics make it a safe purchase for doom metal diehards. Assuming Wino doesn’t eventually work himself to death, I think we can expect a little more greatness from these old dogs in the near future.
The doom legends Saint Vitus released their first studio album in 17 years with Lillie: F-65. They've got Scott "Wino" Weinrich taking back over on vocals from Scott Reagers. Both men have long histories with the band, but I've personally always preferred Wino, so I'm glad to see him back for this.
It's difficult, when a band hasn't released any new material in nearly two decades, to properly calibrate one's expectations. It seems obvious that the group's glory days are behind them, and that anything new they offer us now will be hard pressed to enter into the musical canon alongside their classic material. Beyond that, though, it's impossible to say. The new work could be strong, recalling the band's former glory, but it could also be an absolute train wreck. In this case, I'm inclined to say this is the former.
Saint Vitus have, in my opinion, been pretty successful in recapturing the sound and feel of their late-80s recordings. The guitar riffs are stylistically right out of their classic doom works, and the crazily distorted guitar solos still pop out of the tracks from time to time. The drumming is still reserved yet effective. Wino's vocals sound as good as ever, but that's not terribly surprising since he's never really stopped producing records over the years since his departure from the band. All in all, it's a very solid record that captures what any Saint Vitus fan would hope for in a come-back album.
Naturally this does mean a few other things as well. At this point, nothing the album does even approaches breaking new ground. The songs are new, but they all sound like something we've heard from the band before. Of course nobody hopes that an old favorite will reunite to produce something experimental and strange, and that severely limits where a new record by an old group can really go. So that leaves us with an album that satisfies expectations, but which doesn't bring any surprises or innovations to the table. Rock solid old-school doom straight from the masters. If you like old Saint Vitus you'll like this, if you don't then you won't.
(Originally published on beardsetc.blogspot.com)
Time is no enemy of Saint Vitus, and their latest record Lillie F-65 is a living testimony of that. These guys were born too late and proud of it. I can only imagine how isolated they must have felt back in the 80s, when there were basically only two kinds of metal: thrash or that one where men dressed as women. Thrash kept getting faster and faster and saturated with clones while those transexual glam faggots just got gayer. So here were these smelly, drug-addled creeps, Saint Vitus, doomed to life and lost in time, but too stoned, drunk and pilled-out to ever give a fuck. And they have always thanked that "Big Man Upstairs" for every aspect of their utter weirdness.
Wino is back and of course he still rules. Dave Chandler and his wall of fuzz are completely unspoiled, because, as I said, time is irrelevant. The under-appreciated Mark Adams is as solid as he always has been, and Henry Vasquez, the new guy, is a badass. This dude beats the fuck out of his drums. You gotta love a hard-hitting drummer with a no-nonsense drum kit. One rack tom, two floor toms, big-ass kick and snare and a couple of big ol' loud crashes are all ya really need to play doom drums. I never understood Armando Acosta's elaborate set-up other than it looked cool. He was, of course, the proper drummer for Vitus, may he rest in peace, but Vasquez just plain hits harder.
As for Chandler's guitar tone, well, what can I say? There is only one Dave Chandler and while he has been imitated, it would simply be impossible for his sound to be replicated. He is a doom metal monument and his talent is bested by only one man, the Godfather himself, Tony Iommi.
So let's talk about the fuckin riffs, man. The main similarities I've always noticed (and loved) between Iommi and Chandler is that one-step sliding power chord that is recurrent in songs like "Into The Void" and "Dying Inside," and of course that ever-endearing half-step, wobbling hammer-on, a-la the Sab's title song. These loveable traits are still used to maximum effect from the start of Lillie F-65 with the stomping opener "Let Them Fall." Speaking of "Dying Inside," the main riff of "The Bleeding Ground" is eerily reminiscient of the old Vitus classic, and it fucking rules.
There is a great mix of heavy riffage and psychedlic atmosphere going on here, with tracks like "Vertigo" and "Withdrawal" keeping that recurring feeling of hungover confusion and disillusion prominent. "Blessed Night" struts it stuff with balls-out hard rock swagger, and according to the liner notes, is the tune that the band collaborated on s a whole. It's hard to know exactly how any group's writing process works, but as far as album credits and onstage personas go with these guys, Chandler seems to be the maestro. Lillie F-65 (what the fuck does that mean, anyway?) could have been released in the midst of the classic Wino-era Saint Vitus and it would have made just as much sense then as it does now. This is the timeless music of a timeless band.
"Woke up sick again today. A new gash on my face. Can't remember what I did. Now the pain sets in."
Those are the opening words of "Dependence," a monstrosity of doom found here to close the record proper, with that blunt honesty that this band is known and loved for. The doom of Saint Vitus is so real because the subject matter is stuff that long-haired, unshaven and shabby burnouts such as myself will always identify with. I love the fantastical nature of bands like Candlemass and Cathedral, but when I'm dealing with the remorse and depression of the great come-down, that's when I truly feel doomed. The middle of this piece drops into the sounds of hazy, hopeless feedback, the Lost Feeling, if you will, like the sonic embodiment of the throes of addiction. Then the mammoth and somber riff kicks back in, with the force of the fist that put that new gash in Dave's face while he was blacked-out in the middle of a week long bender.
"Woke up sick again today. It doesn't really matter." Doom on!
The first notes on “Lillie: F-65” show what the entire, almost thirty-five minute, journey of brooding doom metal is all about. Saint Vitus, freshly revamped with three members from the 1980's incarnation of the band, are not reinventing the wheel with their newest release, but rather play it safe in an unfortunately predictable way. Does this make it a bad album? Not at all. But it does keep the album from generating extremely high scores from this reviewer.
“Lillie:65” boasts an utterly amazing line-up with members of some of the most established acts in doom and sludge history: Sourvein, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Place of Skulls, and of course Saint Vitus. One thing you should note about all of those bands is that, while they released some really great albums in their time, they have never really pushed the boundaries of the genres they were writing in. In other words, most of these members are known for putting out classic albums that take a tried and true formula and then don't deviate at all.
The music on “Lillie: F-65” borrows more from early day Saint Vitus with the dirty and slow plodding, rather than mid-period doom rock. Minimalistic guitar chords and rolling drum patterns dominate this release, with fuzzy bass piercing through and interweaving throughout. The guitars maintain a deep and resonate tone, with fuzz and reverb resounding throughout. The pace is, as you might imagine, crawling. Rarely, the speed picks up during a verse section, but ultimately goes back into molasses. The guitar lines borrow a lot from early Black Sabbath, minus the finicky licks and fills, and even sound similar to some Sir Lord Baltimore tracks. That being said, there is no hint of anything modern with the guitars. It's almost as if Saint Vitus's guitar player hasn't listened to the radio since “Mob Rules” came out.
The highlight, as with about any album with him on it, is Wino. His vocals are in top form here, sounding just as whiskey drenched as ever. If you've never heard his vocals, then imagine any other doom band (a la Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre, etc.) and take out the clean, wailing style of singing and replace it with a stoner singer: same intonations and inflections, only with a more gruff and despair driven delivery. His delivery fits so well with the slow and fuzzy riffs and rolling drums.
The guitars and bass are so fuzzy in the mix that they sound straight out of the 1970's analog age, which I can only imagine is intentional. The guitars and bass are meant to be fuzzy with this style of dirty and raw doom metal, but I believe Saint Vitus went a little over the top on this one. The drums are Windex clean, giving a stark contrast to the fuzziness of the rest of the instrumentation. Wino's vocals are extremely high in the mix, and, aside from the gruffness of his voice, are high in the mix and crystal clear. It almost sounds as if two different bands were playing, with the singer and drummer being from a more modern incarnation, while the guitar and bass tracks utilized some form of riff necromancy.
While this is an enjoyable listen, I can' t help but feel that I've already listened to this a couple of hundred times before. Everything has an air of nostalgia, and I'm pretty sure that was what Saint Vitus was going for here. There are no traces of modern music here, and everything sounds straight out of the analog age. Painfully slow, fuzz and reverb laden guitar and bass lines with rolling drums and gruff vocals is the order of the day. Recommended to doom and sludge fans, because you know you'll love it. Everyone else, approach with caution: “Lillie: F-65” is a good listen, but it's too predictable and nostalgic to be amazing.
Originally written for The Metal Observer:
After being involved in various other projects, doom metal legends Saint Vitus finally reformed in 2008, with half the original lineup coming back to write their first album in more than 15 years. Lillie F-65 is therefore perhaps one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year, with the band finally releasing some new material in the form of their 8th full length album after 17 years.
Yet it sounds as if the band were stuck in the early formative years of doom metal, and right from the beginning with Let Them Fall, the heavy Black Sabbath influence that the band has included since their formation is still clearly audible, though there is a marked improvement in terms of production quality on Lillie: F-65. For example moments such as on Let Them Fall are reminiscent of some of the earliest Sabbath material, and even the intro of Dependence reminds listeners of songs like Sign of the Southern Cross. The band progresses through the album in an almost painfully slow pace, and the band's penchant for creating some of the most ominous music is still present, with the atmosphere on the album being rather heavy and dark, such that even on the acoustic interlude Vertigo there is still that feeling of doom, with that heavy and constant presence of the bass of Mark Adams.
The guitar tones are suitably fuzzy, giving them the classic doom feel as well, and moments on tracks like Blessed Night even gives the listener a slight Electric Wizard feel, and of course, the weird and unique solos of Dave, while at times might not seem to make any sense sounding like random play of the whammy bar, also often help to provide the psychedelic feel in the music. Scott's gruff shouts help to bring out the emotions that are contained in the music, and while Lillie: F-65 is drummer Henry's first studio contribution to the band, he manages to fit the band like a glove and constantly proves his versatility throughout the album.
While the rather clean production quality would usually help in the enjoyment of the music more, on Lillie: F-65 though there are some gripes. While the vocals are clear and crisp, the guitars are intentionally mixed in a dirty tone, along with the heavy rumbling bass, resulting in quite a mismatch between the instrumental sections and the vocal sections, though as the album progresses this becomes less and less of a concern.
Unlike the predecessors, Lillie: F-65 lasts for a mere 33 minute, and while it would leave fans craving for more, the album has still definitely proven that despite the band not having played together in the last few years, they have not lost the touch to release good, classic doom metal music.
Metalheads are spoilt for reunions these days, but as far as I'm concerned the two reunions of the last decade or so that really mattered, unless I'm forgetting anything, are the Mob Rules/ Dehumanizer line-up of Black Sabbath (sadly short lived) and Wino and Chandler getting back together for a bunch of tours and a new Saint Vitus album. Dio-Sabbath is the incarnation of that band I most adore, and the same goes for the Wino-fronted version of Vitus.
What would this sound like? Would that droning, humming guitar sound be modernized for some kind of heavier or more crushing modern production? Fuck no. Sounds like they never left. Well they left for twenty years, but this classic sound must have been stored safely in one of Chandler's cupboards against the eventuality they had a chance to make this record. C.O.D. and Die Healing, both fantastic pieces in their own right, are swept away by the band's harrowing return to their winning trilogy of Born Too Late, Mournful Cries and V, as well as the Thirsty and Miserable EP. This is the doom metal album of the year so far, and it is highly unlikely it will be beaten by the end of the year.
As soon as Wino roars "why do aaah scream at them?" on 'Let Them Fall', it's right back to the '80s for us. The only difference is an extra two decades of booze, touring and the world fucking itself over have made his voice arguably even more powerful and indisputably more fitting for this record's morose post-Sabbath crawl. He's got a whisky-marinaded growl to his pessimist bellowing now, making his paeans to human iniquity and personal frustration all that more effective.
The brilliantly bluesy guitar solos, Chandler's ultimate deification of minimalism, are still in there. No showing off, no need to do anything but recapture that booze-soaked '80s depression from when they had things living in the hair and people stared and laughed at Wino on the street. Just a few achingly slow, glowering riffs in the vein of 'Dragon Time' and 'The War Starter', enough feedback to transmit static electricity through your speakers and have your hair on end, and patient, non-flashy drumming. Drop this record on the floor and I'm pretty sure it will leave a dent.
Notably more rocking pieces like 'Thirsty and Miserable' and 'The Creeps' are left out in favour of five real slow doom metal songs and two instrumentals. 'Vertigo', a piece piece written by Wino, is probably the most beautiful and simultaneously saddening instrumental these guys have come up with. All mournful, strumming clean guitars and whining feedback, proper lovely. The other, 'Withdrawal' is a few minutes of warbling feedback that functions as the epilogue to album closer proper 'Dependence'. It's a refreshingly short album - again, like all the Wino-Vitus releases - and the band don't put a single foot wrong.
If I had to choose a favourite, the rolling drums and guttural guitars of 'Blessed Night' might be up there, along with the album closer 'Dependence'. I just feel like ever since these guys split back before C.O.D., neither they or anyone else has written anything even close to this. Traditional doom has become its own thing, somewhat inflected with Candlemass' epic leanings, but this down and dirty, ashen and intimate heavy blues belongs to Saint Vitus. Nothing of music in the last two decades influences this album, all the band seem to have taken from that interim is that mankind never does improve itself, and as Wino laments in 'The Waste of Time', "the world still bleeds". The world never changes, and you'll always need a sedative. Some choose booze. They chose Lillie: F-65.