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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.