Saint Vitus: Lillie: F-65

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Saint Vitus: Lillie: F-65
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Saint Vitus: Lillie: F-65
Doom Metal
Season of Mist Records
May 22nd, 2012
Release length: 34:25
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One of the biggest Doom Metal pioneers of our time, and perhaps just as underrated, is the Los Angeles, California based Saint Vitus. Formed back in 1980, the band has issued a total of seven albums throughout the years, and called it a day back in 1996 after their last two albums without Scott “Wino” Weinrich, who has been fairly successful as of late with his own solo recordings. However, Saint Vitus have come back together to record their eigth studio offering titled Lillie: F-65. But, after all this time, is this release what the fans have long been waiting for since Die Healing?

While it does throw back to the days of early Black Sabbath influenced Doom Metal, the audio quality here seems to try to tread on reminiscent waters a little too far. Lillie: F-65 really has an analog quality to the guitars, which takes away some of the bite from the modern digital sound. The distortion is common for the style, but actually ends up sounding a little hollow with a weaker, somewhat raw buzzing that just doesn’t hit the listener the way you would hope. The bass also blends in very well with it, and doesn’t really offer much of a deeper tone to the recording at times, though still does a good job at keeping it grounded. While some songs can hold a haunting atmosphere from the guitar chords, like “The Waste of Time,” many others just end up sounding uninspiring from it, especially against the louder and enthusiastic crisp vocal performance and drumming. The cymbals come through very well with a slight echo captured, and the snares are the same way with a bit of a kickback despite the slightly looser tuning, and the bass kicks have a nice subtle thud to them that matches the environment the chords either do or attempt to create.

Though the music may not much have much of a bite, it does give off a bit of a lighter environment that works in some cases. “The Bleeding Ground” is a great track you can honestly just kick back and relax to, especially with your favorite vice. The slower pace and simpler riffs carry a strong Stoner Rock vibe that can easily paint visuals of a dimly lit bar in the South with a shot of whisky in hand while your head lays on the ash of a recently dead cigarette, drunken to the point of forgetting about your troubles. The bass ends up working well enough in the heavier material to add a strong backing to the guitar solo towards the end when the pace picks up, though the higher chords feel a little empty. “The Waste of Time” is another slower paced cut, but instead of a smoke filled bar, you get more of a horrific Doom Metal approach. The guitars sound heavy enough to establish a grim, haunting tone that is pushed well with the mixture of cleaner and harsher vocals with an exceptional range. The solo is a bit extended, but given the deeper bass notes used, it ends up well supported, even during the higher notes played, offering a truly nightmarish experience. From start to finish, there’s enough well composed and performed material to keep the listener attentive.

The instrumental track “Vertigo” really highlights the musical talents one would associate with a Wino solo release. The music is a heavily atmospheric experience as well, but far from anything else being offered here. While it does feel natural to the album when coming off of the heavier climax to “The Bleeding Ground,” the desolate environment of the acoustic chords against a heavier bass performance of simpler riffs really does it justice. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really go anywhere, never having a point or a purpose even by the end, leaving you wishing for some kind of climax that never comes. Instead of closure, the listener is left with a fade out that leaves the listener wanted more expansion. Much of this can also be said for “Dependence,” the longest offering here. It isn’t exactly an instrumental, but there aren’t a lot of vocals either. The slower pace relies heavily on the environment that is similar to “The Waste of Time,” but not as engaging after a while. Eventually the listener is subjected to whispered words against long, held chords that seem more reliant as feedback than anything for quite a while, and honestly really become annoying quick. While not a bad track, Saint Vitus does seem to drag it out longer than it needs to be, easily loosing the listener about four minutes in. Unfortunately, this bleeds into “Withdrawal,” which is just more of that feedback approach, but this time from two guitars, and nothing else.

But while the music here often can feel dark and dismal, even drawn out, there’s one glint of hope. “Blessed Night” carries a solid Rock sound to it, as well as a bit of an upbeat and slightly faster pace. This allows a little more complexity to the riffs, making the distortion sound a little stronger, as well as with the bass. The enthusiasm behind the vocals works well with the material, and even gives the song more energy in the end. The guitar solo is short and sweet, fitting perfectly with the raw vibe of the music, and the whole effort just sounds tight and fluid from start to finish with infectious music that will have you moving your head along to the beat.

Lillie: F-65 is a really good album that fans of Saint Vitus are definitely going to enjoy. Unfortunately, the last few songs really aren’t that great, though “The Waste of Time” does have it’s perks. On top of that, the audio quality really takes a while to be capitalized on, and “Let Them Fall” just doesn’t sound that good due to how weak the guitars can sound, though far from a bad offering. Is this something that was well worth the roughly seventeen year wait? Not quite, but it’s far from a bad overall package, and won’t let the listener down despite not quite meeting the expectations. If you’re a fan of Saint Vitus, then Lillie: F-65 is still worth picking up and kicking back to, though not necessarily something you need to rush right out and buy, even if you’re a die-hard fan.

01. Let Them Fall – 4:00
02. The Bleeding Ground – 6:19
03. Vertigo – 2:43
04. Blessed Night – 3:59
05. The Waste of Time – 5:39
06. Dependence – 7:36
07. Withdrawal – 3:26
Overall Score: 7/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Season of Mist Records.