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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.