Sunday, 12 May 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Saint Vitus, "Saint Vitus"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/05/2019
Label: Season of Mist

This is classic Vitus every step of the way and their best album since “Die Healing

“Saint Vitus” CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. "Remains" (6:23)
02. "A Prelude To..." (3:20)
03. "Bloodshed" (3:04)
04. "12 Years in the Tomb" (5:24)
05. "Wormhole" (5:22)
06. "Hour Glass" (5:23)
07. "City Park" (4:01)
08. "Last Breath" (6:38)
09. "Useless" (1:32)

The Review:

Saint Vitus return with their first full length since 2012 and their first with Scott Reagers on the mic since... 1995! Saint Vitus' position as one of the greatest doom bands of all time is not in doubt- even if people think that doom these days is two hippies playing two chords to larger crowds than Vitus have ever pulled.

Reagers' previous best albums with the band are all seminal to doom; the Sabbath sludge of their debut, the punk leanings of “Hallows Victim”, the career high-point of “Die Healing”... classic all and wonderful entries into the doom genre that went so far as to form and innovate it. After the joy of Wino returning to the band and then the release of “Lilie F-65”, many fans were a little underwhelmed- the record had a few too many fillers and felt rushed (if a record born a decade and a half too late can be “rushed”).

So what about their new self titled effort?! Well, this is the best album since “Die Healing”, no doubt and for me it is a good deal better than many of their other albums as well. With the band line up drastically changed (Armando Acosta dead, Mark Adams fighting a battle with Parkinsons and Wino having exited), Saint Vitus have something to prove here. They, of course, are up to the task: Dave Chandler is still a maestro and one of my favourites- not to mention most instantly recognisable- guitar players and Reagers sounds just as fired up as he did three decades ago. Unbelievable, but true.

This time around, you get eight full tracks and an experimental soundscape with samples. The sound is superb- thick and organic, very clear but it sounds so alive and full of power. Henry Vasquez pounds the kit like Bonham in his later years and that large diameter bass drum gets a thorough kicking. Pat Bruders (ex- Down/Crowbar) brings a fat and competent bottom end while the two veterans are on fine, fine form.

The opener “Remains” is prime Vitus- paranoid, despairing, slithering. Great start. From there you get the curveball “A Prelude To” with its quiet delivery and west coast nightmare vibe- a wonderfully offbeat track. “Bloodshed” is fast and pretty furious, a throwback to “Hallows Victim” for sure. “12 Years In The Tomb” is a beast- but you know that from the stream already.

“Wormhole” keeps the doom flowing slow and low while “Hour Glass” has a riff to die for , even if “City Park” is the experimental soundscape that no one is really asking for. Fortunately, “Last Breath” is a doom 101: monumentally heavy and dark. Classic Vitus. By the time the full on hardcore of “Useless” ripped out of the speakers, I was sold on this album.

This is classic Vitus every step of the way and I could not have hoped for a better album this late in the game. Just where it will sit in the band's canon of releases, I'm not sure, particularly as the sound/production and mix is so good that it is hard to compare to earlier albums as it is just so pleasing to the ear. You never know, it could be their last album and if that is the case they will have gone out on a high.

“Saint Vitus” is available HERE

Band info: facebook