Saint Vitus Lillie: F-65
By: Chris Davison
Beware, dear reader, of sacred cows. The problem with thy holy bovine is that they become impervious to criticism – indeed, it is frowned upon to openly challenge them. In the world of Doom Metal, there can be few cows more beloved than Saint Vitus – particularly a Saint Vitus in which Wino himself is once again the lead singer. After all, it's been 22 years since he last recorded an album with Saint Vitus, in the form of V. Since then, of course, Scott “Wino” Weinrich has been the singer in at least one in four American doom metal bands, which I believe was a statute enacted under the regime of George Bush the First. It is generally considered bad form to criticise a sacred cow.
Well, I say “nay” to the naysayers here, because simply put, this album – this, one of the most anticipated albums for doom metal fans, just isn't really that good. No, no, hear me out. There's nothing dreadful about it, but then, there isn't anything that will make you grin from ear to ear either. Yeah, you've got Dave Chandler on the guitars, so you know that those bluesy, sprawling leaden riffs are going to come spilling out of the speakers. The thing , though, is that these riffs do not represent Chandler at his finest. These are the riffs that would grace a B-side of a single 20 years ago. You can't fault the singing voice of Wino, of course – that world weary tone and the gravel-lunged gravitas – but you can perhaps wonder if his heart is in this. It's a hard thing to properly express, but in a sense, it does sound a little like he dialled in this performance. Those of you who have been fortunate enough to hear his solo album Adrift will know how powerful he can be when he's singing on a project he really cares for.
Much like fellow American doom metal alumni, Pentagram, the sorry truth of the matter is that the days of inspiration for Saint Vitus appear to be long gone. They're all well travelled musicians now, of course, so you will always get a level of competence and solid, if generic, musicianship. It's this erosion of creative energy that means that every band must eventually stop recording. It happens to most bands. Some manage to find fresh, fertile ground. Others radically change or evolve into other outfits. Reforming bands is a tricky old thing at the best of times, but if you've ever got back together with an ex, you'll know the likelihood of it all working out for the best. Sorry, Saint Vitus, but I was born too late for this album.