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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: