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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.