Friday, 16 August 2013

Saint Vitus - C.O.D and Die Healing Reissues (Album Reviews)


Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 16/8/2013
Label : Season of Mist

COD, album  tracklisting:                                          
1.    Intro                                                                   
2.    Children of Doom                                               
3.    Planet of Judgement                                           
4.    Shadow of a Skeleton                                         
5.    (I Am) The Screaming Banshee                         
6.    Plague of Man                                                   
7.    Imagination Man                                               
8.    Fear                                                                   
9.    Get Away
10.  Bela
11.  A Timeless Tale
12.  Hallow's Victim (Exhumed)
13.  To Breed a Soldier (bonus track)
14.  The Chameleon (bonus track

Die Healing, album tracklisting:
1). Dark World
2). One Mind
3). Let The End Begin
4). Trail Of Pestilence
5). Sloth
6). Return Of The Zombie
7). In The Asylum
8). Just Another Notch
Bio :

SAINT VITUS are now reissuing two long overlooked classics from their impressive catalogue: "C.O.D." (1992) and "Die Healing" (1995). There can be no doubt: SAINT VITUS are the godfathers of American Doom Metal. "Die Healing" was the final release before the band went into a long hiatus lasting for seventeen years, much to the dismay of their loyal fans. "Die Healing" also witnessed the return of original singer Scott Reagers, who had already lent his outstanding voice to TYRANT, the band out of which SAINT VITUS emerged. Reagers remained and recorded with SAINT VITUS until 1985, when he was replaced by Scott "Wino" Weinrich from THE OBSESSED. This grants "Die Healing" a special place in the discography of the Doom heroes as their acclaimed comeback full-length "Lillie: F-65" (2012) again features Wino. Despite the seventeen year break, both releases are closely related due to the trademark guitar sound of co-founder Dave Chandler – full of reverbs, feedbacks, flanger and apocalyptic distortion leading to amazing and magical solos. Formed in 1979, SAINT VITUS were largely influenced by BLACK SABBATH, whose song "Saint Vitus Dance" obviously inspired the moniker. Since debut album "Saint Vitus" (1984) these Americans have released six more full-lengths and two EPs that are summarily considered to be classics of their genre. Despite some hiatus and changes over the years SAINT VITUS remained as true icons of Doom. Adepts will delight in the honey slow dripping of notes and the sudden energetic outbursts, which are as painfully depressing as they are sweet. "Die Healing" means: Doom or be doomed

Album line-up :                                                                      
Dave Chandler: guitars, vocals on "A Timeless Tale" and “Just Another Notch”       
Christian "Chritus" Linderson: vocals (COD)
Scott Reagers: vocals (Die Healing)
Mark Adams: bass
Armando Acosta (R.I.P. 2010): drums

Two of Saint Vitus 90's albums are the subject of this review. The tattooed bikers are a cornerstone of the doom genre and are one of those bands that most, if not all, fans agree on. Neither record features Wino, before you ask, but Die Healing does feature returning original vocalist Scott Reagers. COD (Children Of Doom) features former Count Raven vocalist Christus Linderson. The album, from 1992, benefits from remastering and two bonus tracks to entice completists. The sound is really quite mighty. Dave Chandler's guitar is to the fore, as you would expect, and the drums of former army veteran/motorcycle cop Armando Acosta (much missed) pound weightily indeed. The bass of Mark Adams can be heard very clearly on the title track too- proving that Saint Vitus lead the doom genre for a reason; they have attention to detail and craft their music accordingly.

Anyone reading this who is familiar with Born Too Late will be aware that the band utilised clear production to enhance the impact of their unique sound- and so it is again here. Yes, the drums date to the time period, but the overall heaviness cannot be denied. So, to the vocals... Linderson does not try to ape Weinrich or Reagers. He instead goes for a clear and forceful delivery that would slot in well on any doom release. Certainly he is a cut above the majority of doom vocalists you will hear and he brings the right vibe with him- mournful and pitch perfect. His range works well also and he does a fine job on this anomaly in the Vitus catalogue. His delivery almost sounds like Jim Morrison in places. The are great riffs chaotic leads and heavy grooves aplenty here. There are faster numbers (“I am The Screaming Banshee” leads the band into punk territory), there is epic doom, there is clean guitar, there is noise and feedback... the record has it all. 

If you never really explored the album due to the oddity nature of the lineup, or you are a Wino fan so never ventured outside of his catalogue, this is your chance to do so. With a great sound and great songs, what is not to like? To draw a parallel, Vitus is about Chandler as much as Black Flag is about Greg Ginn- so check this album out and give it your attention; it is well worthy of it. Real doom, played by real doom musicians.

By way of contrast, Die Healing (from 1995) features original vocalist Scott Reagers and weighs in with eight tracks as opposed to COD's twelve. Honestly, I prefer Wino's delivery to Reagers'. However, there are those who think him to be the best vocalist Vitus has ever had and he has certainly sung on some of their best material. Again, the band are blinding- Chandler's riffs are as unusual and doom filled as ever and his leads equally unique. The remastering works well- the sound is clear and heavy and Acosta utilises double bass drums sparingly and to good effect- echoing his performance on COD. I rated Saint Vitus as the best gig I went to in 2012- largely due to Chandler's performance as I loved his wild leads and feral stage persona. Honestly, the man is the heart and soul of Vitus and he is very much the focal point (even with Wino in the band!). As such, then, any fan of Vitus will be a fan of this record (and COD)  even if the vocals on either aren't exactly to your taste. The eight tracks crawl by with weight and gloom and the material on offer is doom in the purist sense. There are no bonus tracks to tempt in fans, this is just a reissue in superior remastered form of a great album played by a great band.

If you are a doom fan, than by extension you must be a Vitus fan and thus you should own both of these records. Saint Vitus are considered genre defining for a reason- they are doom in the purist sense and represent the pinnacle of the genre. Check out both of these record and see if you can disagree.

Words by : Richard Maw

As always show your support to the band. You can buy the CD/LP here from 16/8/2013 and DD at the usual places.  Thanks to Gunnar @ SOM for hooking us up with the record.