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Saint Vitus ‎– Lillie: F-65 -CD

€9.90

So after a couple years on the reunion tour circuit, doom legends Saint Vitus have finally released their first studio album since 1995’s Die Healing. Named after one of guitarist Dave Chandler’s favorite downers, Lillie: F-65 has been hyped for being the first Vitus release to feature singer/guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich since V came out in 1990. This album is also the first to feature drummer Harry Vasquez in place of the unfortunately departed Armando Acosta.

In a time when so many veteran bands are consciously channeling the sounds of their classic output, Saint Vitus has arguably come the closest as this album sounds like an honest extension of Born Too Late or Mournful Cries. The vocals may have a little less reverb of them than they did in the 80s but the production is fuzzy, distant, and consistently devoid of any modern polish.

Even though Wino’s vocals have been the focal point of hype, Chandler is the real star of the show thanks to his downtrodden riffs and feedback-driven solos. In addition, the rhythm section sounds great with the drums keeping their booming touch and Mark Adams’ bass giving solid backgrounds while the guitars go off on their distorted tangents. Wino himself also holds up pretty well and doesn’t sound too different from his early years; have the constant projects kept his voice in shape or has he always sounded like a withered old man?

If there’s one thing to nitpick about this release, it’s that it’s too damn short. Of course, this trope isn’t exactly new for Saint Vitus as the widely ignored C.O.D. was their only album with more than eight songs on it. You could get away with a thirty-four minute long full-length CD in the 70s or 80s, but that is pretty much considered to be an EP these days. Especially when you consider the fact that no song is longer than eight minutes and two of the tracks are instrumental.

But with that said, the material that is on here is quite awesome and very often reminiscent of Born Too Late. The lamenting lyrics and ringing chords on the opening “Let Them Fall” recall the timeless title track, “Blessed Night” is a drum heavy romp similar to “Clear Windowpane,” and “Dependency” plays out like the long lost sequel to “Dying Inside.” Those tracks all manage to be strong but “The Bleeding Ground” and “The Waste Of Time” may be the best thanks to their insanely memorable riffs.

As expected, the instrumentals aren’t quite as strong but still have some interesting ideas. While “Vertigo” has a trippy desert feel that is quick to remind me of Wino’s Premonition 13 project, “Withdrawal” builds off the brooding “Dependency” and has three minutes of pretty much nothing but guitar feedback. It would’ve been cool to see these turn into fully developed songs but they are pretty decent for what they are.

Saint Vitus’s eighth studio album may be a little too short for the modern age but there’s no denying that this still manages to be a pretty damn strong release. The solid riffs and old school aesthetics make it a safe purchase for doom metal diehards. Assuming Wino doesn’t eventually work himself to death, I think we can expect a little more greatness from these old dogs in the near future.