Saint Vitus – Lillie: F-65 (Season of Mist Records)

Monday, 25th March 2013
Rating: 7/10

A long time coming for this one (16 years), meaning that the old stoners with their dusty leather vests can hop on their hogs, hit the bar, find a billiards table, and let Chandler, Wino, and the boys do some real soul-searching, doom-style. As such, Saint Vitus did what was expected of them onLillie F:65 (the title was reportedly influenced by Dave Chandler’s affinity for downers back in the day), and there’s a nice swath of gritty, low-end riffs, and of course, Wino’s gravely vocals. Sixteen years did little to take the sheen off Saint Vitus.

Chandler’s guitar tone is the main selling point here, for it’s as minimal and straight as one can get. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if Chandler set up his amp in the studio, plopped a crappy microphone in front of it and recorded his guitars in that manner. Yet, his tone obviously comes from his soul, for the sobbing riffs heard on opener “Let Them Fall” and the repetitive, but awfully infectious “The Bleeding Ground.” Here, Wino gets particularly spooked-out, while Chandler’s fuzzed-out-to-the-max guitar tone works its magic.

The album is only 33 minutes long, which is a bit of bummer given how long the band has been away, so fortunately, SV makes most of these songs count. “Dependence” brings in a noise-laden outro courtesy of Chandler, while “Blessed Night” has one of Wino’s better vocal performances, especially in the chorus. In fact, Wino is probably the best choice for Saint Vitus vocalist, even if there is a contingent that prefers original singer Scott Reagers. Perhaps it’s an age or nostalgia thing, but Wino feels like the right man for the job.

Some may find fault with the album’s short running time and the lack of any real savory doom classics, yet Saint Vitus prove that an old leathery, sobered-up warhorse is hard to bring down. Lillie: F-65 may not be anywhere near as good as Born Too Late, but like Pentagram (another veteran doom band enjoying a second life), Saint Vitus are far from croaking; in fact, they might just be getting started, again.

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