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Loses its way - 71%

gasmask_colostomy, April 25th, 2017

The first time I listened to Saint Vitus, I didn't like them. I think it was Born Too Late and I simply decided that it was too slow and boring, lacked atmosphere, and didn't have enough interesting riffs. The second time I listened to Saint Vitus, I also didn't like them, though I stuck with an album for its whole length and sort of got it by the end. After that, I stayed away for a long time before finally biting the bullet and getting hold of Die Healing. I listened to it all. I listened to it again. And then I listened to it once more. By then, I was on board and had stepped into a new position - that of a Saint Vitus fan.

Several more listens down the line (and a couple more albums), I feel justified in saying that Vitus are both an incredibly traditional doom metal band and a bizarre fluke in the genre. In the first place, they change practically nothing from the basic 'Black Sabbath' (the song) format, Dave Chandler entering almost every song with that slow, creepy tritone in the back of his mind, while the pace tends to remain very, very sedate throughout, with the exception of one or two mid-paced bursts per album. On the other hand, that adherence to the slow and dark formula is a kind of extremity in itself, not to mention that Chandler's squalling leads are the total antithesis of po-faced doom, rocking out in a blaze of 1970s purple sunlight and wah pedals. The final piece of the puzzle is surely Scott Reagers, whose downright weird howl gave their two earliest albums a serious atmospheric advantage and returned to the fray for Die Healing, even if the following tour was a disaster that led to the band breaking up more than 10 years, a couple of live dates notwithstanding.

There is not a great deal separating Die Healing from Vitus's former output, though it's worth mentioning that the production is a vast improvement over the underwater quality of Hallow's Victim, bolstered guitar and drum sounds powering through the speakers with a previously undreamt of crispness. It also exceeds all but the strangely plus-sized C.O.D. in length, suggesting either a surplus of great ideas or a smattering of filler, a dichotomy which I dither over, since both sides are possibly true. Allow me to explain: in the first place, there are some cracking tunes on display, including the hummable 'One Mind' and excruciatingly tense 'In the Asylum', yet there is a sense that 50 minutes wasn't quite necessary, especially with four songs running well past six minutes in length. Personally, I don't find that 'Trail of Pestilence' adds a great deal to the album and, despite being something a little different, 'Sloth' doesn't come off as a total success. With the "classic Vitus" that spanned the '80s releases, there was never the feeling that an idea was dragged out beyond its required length, nor that the albums hung around when they were no longer welcome, yet Die Healing gets slightly stale somewhere in the middle of the exceedingly plain 'Return of the Zombie', which isn't a poor track in its own right, just happens to follow on from other monotonously sluggish numbers. The issue here is that there isn't quite the variation or required drama to keep the focus, compounded by the fact that 'Return of the Zombie' underdoses on fuzz, making the song sound thinner than the others.

Aside from the issue with running time, there is still enough to recommend any Vitus or doom metal fan in general to take a peek. 'Let the End Begin' is probably the pick for a first listen, since it contains the regular trudging tempo and Reagers going slowly nuts on the mic, plus the added bonus of a quicker break to change things up a bit and allow a release of tension as both Chandler and bassist Mark Adams solo. 'In the Asylum' is another lengthy and super slow number, though has nothing in its eight minutes that resembles catharsis, just spine-tingling basslines and growling chords alongside just the kind of drum performance that shows Armando Acosta knew exactly how to put his skills to best use. However, it's Reagers' deranged performance that seals the deal on this one, shrieking and groaning his way around inside a forcefield of echo effects that fully replicate the mental horrors of which he speaks. The album ends on rather a different note, 'Just Another Notch' switching things up for Chandler to take a turn on vocals (he actually sounds like Lemmy at the beginning) and the band to chug about at comfortable medium pace, playing out in more relaxed style. It works fairly well to discharge the tension of the preceding creepfest, but placing the shorter, quicker songs at the start and end does cause the serious issue of allowing the entire middle to slump into a repetitive crawl that even a great vocalist can't save.

The main problem for Die Healing therefore isn't that there are many poor songs or a lack of ideas, more that there are good songs and decent ideas poorly arranged, preventing the music from being shown in its best light. A few of the songs really hit the heights in the Saint Vitus discography, while there are one or two that could have used editing or cutting to achieve a greater overall effect. There's also the niggling doubt that some of these songs just don't work as well as they would have done in the past because of the comparatively excellent production, allowing the band's movements too much clarity instead of smothering their exact intentions in the murk and concocting more sinister shadows as a result. Whatever the case, Die Healing is not quite the runt of the litter, though it doesn't trouble the top spot from these doom masters.

Saint Vitus' best (and darkest). - 100%

Doominance, July 8th, 2014

'Die Healing' would be the final album by Saint Vitus for a long time. It marked the return of the original singer Scott Reagers, and with him back in the band, Saint Vitus made their darkest album to date. The weird, punk-influenced doomsters from LA haven't exactly been making jolly and merry music throughout all these years, but 'Die Healing' takes the band's dark sound and lyrics to a whole new sinister level.

The distinctive axe-work by mastermind Dave Chandler is the same, if not tighter than ever, and his wild solos are another welcoming and familiar aspect. Mark Adams does what he does best i.e. following Chandler's riffs with his bass, and Armando Acosta (R.I.P.) works the sticks the true "doom metal way".

Musically, 'Die Healing' is simply better than the band's previous albums featuring Reagers; even if the more punk-influenced sound isn't as prominent than on 'Saint Vitus' and 'Hallow's Victim'. And speaking of Reagers; his creepy wails are more bone-chilling than ever, and just creates a menacing, eerie, yet brilliant overall atmosphere. Gloomy stuff, I tell ya! With that said; punk is close to Saint Vitus' heart, so 'Die Healing' closes with a punk-influenced doom rocker called "Just Another Notch", in which Chandler handles the vocals in addition to the guitar. His gravelly voice is pretty ugly, but I doubt he even tries to make it sound pretty, and it fits the music nevertheless.

Another thing I should point out is the production. The band's self-titled debut album and 'Hallow's Victim' suffered a bit because of what I can imagine being a low-cost production; something I have no problem with, especially with a band like Saint Vitus, since a cheap-sounding production can actually benefit the music. 'Die Healing' has a much better production that sounds fairly crisp, at least compared to the first releases featuring Reagers on vocals, and this does the band some well-deserved justice. The production on 'Die Healing' really brings the greatness of the band. The heavy, slow to mid-tempo riffing with a punch and crazy soloing really stand out, thanks to the improved sound quality, and would make Tony Iommi and a certain Jimi Hendrix (R.I.P.) proud, since I believe these two legendary guitarists have had some influence on Chandler's unique style.

Saint Vitus has been able to put consistently good records out, since day one, and 'Die Healing' is no exception. With some of the band's best songs such as "Dark World", "One Mind" and "Trail of Pestilence", this album is a must-listen for anyone who likes Saint Vitus and doom metal (and even heavy metal) in general. 'Die Healing' is, along with 'Born Too Late' the very best of Saint Vitus. Doom on!

Saint Vitus - Die Healing - 95%

Witchfvcker, April 24th, 2014

After 15 years of pain and misery, Saint Vitus anno 1995 had long since cemented themselves amongst the pantheon of doom. Since their seminal Born Too Late, they could look back on three splendid yet obscure records, which had seen singers Wino (The Obsessed) and later Christian Linderson (Count Raven, Lord Vicar) depart from the band. For the recording of Die Healing, original frontman Scott Reagers was brought back into the fold, signaling a return to the rather deranged sound of their early years.

Die Healing turned out to be the swansong of the band (until their 2012 reunion), and the wear and tear has left its dirty mark on every song. While never a particularly merry band of fellows, Die Healing trawls the murkiest depths of insanity, death, and apocalyptic lamentations Saint Vitus have ever had to offer. Dave Chandler’s trademark tenebrous crawl looms ominously from beginning to end, while Reagers’ death howl is absolutely chilling.

This is Saint Vitus at their tightest, evident in the gloomy yet anthemic “Dark World”, or the disconcerting “In The Asylum”. Twisted distorted soloing, plodding drums and increasingly bleak lyrics make for harrowing listening. Some sort of release is achieved towards the end, with Chandler himself rambling through the psych-punk heroin romp of “Just Another Notch”. There’s no light at the end of this tunnel, just another grim tale of hopelessness and addiction.

In light of their 2012 comeback and renewed popularity, it’s about time this album was afforded the attention it never got back in the day. The current batch of reissues from Season Of Mist will hopefully serve as a second coming for Saint Vitus’ extended under-appreciated body of work, of which Die Healing is the crown jewel. Many bands have tried to recreate these gloomy hymns, but few if any can approach the dread Saint Vitus inspire here.

Written for The Metal Observer

The End of the Beginning of the End - 93%

GuntherTheUndying, November 1st, 2013

"Die Healing" is the sound of the beginning of the end. It actually was Saint Vitus’ final statement back in 1995 before they went silent for several years, returning in 2012 with "Lillie: F-65" over a decade after the age of "Die Healing." Although this is definitely one of the band's strongest efforts, it was released at a strange time: Saint Vitus' stint with one-and-done vocalist Christian Linderson had ended after the conflicted "C.O.D." brought the group into a black sheep phase of sorts, while Saint Vitus, like many of its cohorts, was fading into obscurity. However, Saint Vitus' funeral march is easily one of the best records these doom veterans ever released, pretty much on par with the band's classic offerings, and one of the most authentic doom metal albums around.

The biggest thing that brought down "C.O.D" was its chintzy production—that pristine clarity hadn't done much for a fuzzy group like Saint Vitus. On "Die Healing," the sound quality appears focused and clean, but with the sort of grit that makes it feel like Dave Chandler's crew is behind the wheel. While not a huge diversion from the usual Saint Vitus output, "Die Healing" is simply far more consistent and memorable than the works that had foretold its coming. Part of this infatuation is due to the return of Scott Reagers, whose vocals on a handful of the group's primordial recordings greatly enriched the miserable beginnings of these doom demigods. Here, Reagers sounds like Wino wearing a Dr. Seuss hat; his dark, gloomy, awesomely comical and lively vocals are like grey spots within an ocean of black.

I guess one of the nice things about Saint Vitus' discography is that the band never underwent an interpersonal clouding that resulted in the group waking up in some creative wasteland. "Die Healing," while traditional in its roots, is reasonably one of the finest representations of Saint Vitus' sound. The lethargic, slowed paces are not atypical, but Chandler's riffs are absolutely prime, some of the finest licks he's ever put down on tape. In general, however, the songs make the album an experience that is far more interesting and enamoring than "C.O.D." Every tune is great, but "The Sloth" and "In the Asylum" are eight-minute crucifixions of bruising doom, while "Just Another Notch" delivers an up-tempo slice of driving guitar work. Between the three, I'm torn.

The pantheon of Wino has remained the main attraction within the camp of Saint Vitus, but "Die Healing" has turned a piece of my heart into something miserable, bleak, and withered. I had the amazing opportunity to see Saint Vitus live several years after the release of "Die Healing." Although I left the show feeling very satisfied, that little piece cried out for the droning riffs, the raw beatings, the unhurried madness that closed the book on Saint Vitus for several years. "Die Healing" is simply in a world of its own, and it represents everything that Saint Vitus stands for with utmost precision and gloom. It's the coldest blaze of glory I've ever heard.

This review was written for:

Morning at the Doom Academy - 86%

Abominatrix, March 23rd, 2010

Hello, hello, and welcome to today's lecture. The subject I want to address with you, my fetid pupils, is maturity, and what the process of refinement and growth ought to represent for humans, and, specifically, for that most noble and useful sort of person who challenges preconceptions and shakes ideals, the artist.

The misconception about ageing that some are fooled into advocating is that when you grow old, your mind opens, like a blooming flower. You become more tolerant, forgiving, free. Perhaps you even expect happiness and tranquillity. My friends...this is a belief for the ignorant, the sheltered and the sheep. just take a look around you! What do you see?

"A dull classroom and a really ugly-looking junky loser at the front..."

Did I hear some clean-cut piece of shit pipe up? Trying to be smart? in the Black Sabbath shirt?

"Pain, suffering and misery!"

Well done; that is the correct answer. Do you really think it is possible to grow old in such a dark world without becoming a bitter, disenchanted, mentally decayed waste of space? That question is rhetorical...don't try to answer, you stupid fucks. It is not; the idea of growing into a well-rounded, healthy human being as one accumulates experience is a sham. Once you realise that the world is nasty and stinks and that people made it this way because they are slime, you can get over yourself and embrace decrepitude and misery.

Now we come to our "text" for today's session, Saint Vitus's 1995 album, "Die Healing". Note that this is the final recorded work from this band, and thus arguably their most mature and developed. The Wino was a fine representative of the debauched and unwashed, but it is clear to the seasoned veteran that the group lacked a certain gravitas during his tenure with them, to say nothing of that strange Swedish hippy who was on the previous record. If Wino was descending slowly into a dark abyss of uncaring, Reagers has already been there, has died thrice over and is no longer human. In Reagers' depiction, there can be no room for humour or levity. You think Wino, with the things growing in his hair, was the real deal? Bah! Reagers has holes instead of eyes! He carries a bloody axe, a pouch full of needles and because he and a few other disillusioned inmates took over the asylum, he is a fine hand with the electroconvulsive therapy equipment. There are vile things squirming in his skull, which you can see through the spaces where his eyes should be.

In the old days, when Saint Vitus was a young lad, there wasn't any shying away from fast, propulsive music. They even tried this a few times with Wino, but the drunken lout could never seem to bring those numbers alive the way Reagers could. Well, the band learned from this experience, and it's a mark of maturity and stubbornness that, despite having Reagers back, they simply won't record any more fast songs. They don't work anymore. Everything is too shitty, too glum, and if you're tapping your foot or pretending to do double bass drumming, you're obviously a young upstart with foolish ideas about getting ahead in this world. Therefore, Saint Vitus chooses to no longer provide the opportunity for such flightiness, and instead crushes with painful riff after riff, a cold, reverberating sound without a glimmer of hope or optimism. The man with the slothful riffs coming out of his bum, Dave Chandler, has always made great guitar tones emerge from those broken old amps of his, and this album shows us the bleakest, darkest of them all. Armando's drums have their usual weak and dispirited sound, made deliberately powerless (though certainly high enough in the mix) so as not to provide any reassurances of stability or subtract from the grumbling roar of the strings, all of which concentrate on low frequency rumblings, except when Dave rapes your sensibilities with his wailing wah-wah solos.

I confess, having once been a young punk myself, that at first the vocals on "Die Healing" did not sit well with me. However, after being wooed by the Saint in its early days with Reagers, I was then ready for his return a decade later, sounding chillier and more depraved than ever before. His voice feels as though he married the guitar tone on this album, and in fact I've almost never heard a rumbling distorted sound mesh with a vocalist so well. Dave and the producer must certainly be commended.

Now, just think of that album title...and think of the implications. Is it worth healing someone if it kills you? What if those who would receive your gift would happily stab you in the back, as most of your friends no doubt would if the opportunities seemed attractive enough? What does a good person do after a lifetime of disappointment, being proven wrong each time he assumes the best about humankind?

"Turn the other cheek, like christ, and continue to do good works."

No! You, Mr. Plaid, fresh out of your fancy private school... you will die in a gutter, shivering and alone! Gah, I need a stiff drink...back in a few minutes, you little turds.

All right, I feel numb now; I can continue this charade. No, what that abused person I alluded to does, is he turns away and says, "I only care about me!" He stiffens up..he doesn't change for the better because the world and the race keeps throwing him shit! Saint Vitus have finally realised this, and after "Die Healing" there can be nothing glimmer of appeasing hope and no ray of light, anywhere. Eight hymns of sickness and misery is what you will find, each one delivered at a crawling, infirm pace and each presenting a mere few riffs and a smattering of wailing, psychedelic soloing. I might add that Dave's solos are maybe at their best here, winding through the usual histrionic wah-soaked tunnels but also presenting a great deal of extra melody, and seeming more Iommi-influenced than ever before. The riffs here are certainly among the absolute darkest Saint Vitus ever created...I will name "One Mind" and its creeping verses as an exemplar of just how well this works.

If there is any fault with this presentation, it might be that "Let the End Begin" is not the final song on the record and, indeed, of Saint Vitus's well-starred career. I'm not sure what is up with "Just Another Notch", but it sounds rather different from the rest of the album somehow, featuring a slurred and despondently spaced out vocal delivery that, I suppose, fits well the theme of hopeless drug addiction. Still, "Let the End Begin" is very reminiscent structurally of the debut's "Burial at Sea", being largely painfully slow and anguished with a frantic burst of speed in the middle. Reagers' vocal delivery in this song is positively painful...he seems to be playing the part of the reaper, and yet sounds dreadfully afraid and under the thrall of something terrible. Perhaps doing God's work has driven him insane over the centuries!

Yes, there's so much good about this one, but it all ultimately comes down to mood and atmosphere. You won't listen to this one as much as you might earlier Vitus records, because the feeling is just so bleak and cold, especially compared with the Wino albums, that it turns out to be something of an exhausting and downbeat experience, which is exactly how doom should be. Scott and Dave are just at the top of their game in every capacity, and I can't stress enough how great the vocals are, sometimes aided by crazy effects like back-masking to create that special aura of creeping madness, as in “The Asylum”, and generally delivering some very world-weary lyrics. Hell, even the rather inauspicious chorus of "Beware...THE SLOTH!" manages to sound great coming from this man's mouth, and yes, he seems to be singing about the devil and not an attack of arboreal mammals that like to hang upside-down.

To conclude the lecture then, my insignificant stains, I would sell any one of you, especially you pretty ones with glorious tits, just so that I could sleep at night, and dream in a haze of better, unattainable things that you will never know. I believe any one of you would do the same, and that you will eventually come to the same sorts of crossroads that I, and the bard Vitus, have already reached. The world will be more tolerable once everyone realises this. Listen to this record, folks, until you feel sick. Thank you and worms.

Vitus Last Valiant Stand - 85%

brocashelm, April 20th, 2006

Time had not been kind to Saint Vitus, despite proving their mettle again and again as amongst the most dedicated and skilled purveyors of doom metal the world had ever known. But membership hassles and record label woes had derailed and upset the band’s progress, and by the early nineties they were struggling to remain hooked to life support. The Wino years (those spent with the iconic metal vocalist late of The Obsessed who stepped in ’86) had been productive, but the recent addition and subsequent discharge of Christian Linderson (who’d also performed with Swedes Count Raven) as well as the fine but nearly invisible Children Of Doom album had lowered the band’s profile.

So it was a shock to anyone paying attention when it was announced that original singer Scott Reagers would be rejoining the band, which hardcore fans prayed would see a rekindling of this band’s innate sense of metallic woe. Fortunately it did. Die Healing is Saint Vitus’ final album, and a good way to go out it is. Firstly, the sonic nature of the band’s earlier recordings is somewhat restored, that being the gloriously fuzzy and spectral aura that adorned their earliest work. Partly to credit is Reagers himself, as his odd, quavering, snarling voice is the perfect foil for the band’s loping pulse. No offense to Wino, but for these ears, Reagers was this bands first, best choice as vocalist.

The material is up to snuff as well; the somewhat forced sloth of the Wino years being somewhat cleared away. “Dark World” opens the album with an insistent slow, though not lethargic pace, leaving that style to “Let The End Begin” to embrace, which is does with wonderful nihilistic aplomb. “Sloth” is another super-slow tale of horror, reminding one of elder band classics like “Burial At Sea” or “The Psychopath,” whilst “Just Another Notch,” a tale warning of the dangers of addiction mixes things up with a faster tempo, and fuzz master Dave Chandler handling the vocals (well, I might add).

While still not the altar of psychedelic doom the band’s best, earliest work was, Die Healing was in no sense a disappointment or an embarrassment. While it's downright morose to still live in a metal world without the presence of Saint Vitus, we can state that they ended their own career with taste and soul intact.