Monday, May 20, 2019

Album Review: Saint Vitus - Saint Vitus

Something is rotten in the State of Metal, and that's the corpse of old school Doom metal that refuses to stay dead in its casket. Instead it's risen to haunt us all: a few months after their Swedish counterpart Candlemass reunited with their original singer to release one of the best albums of their career, U.S. Stoner Doom Metal scene originators Saint Vitus are doing the same with a self-titled LP, their first since 2012's LILLIE: F-65,  that sounds every bit as dirty and evil as you'd expect.

This isn't grandiloquent, bombastic Metal: it's cheap, scummy and closer to the ethos of punk than to whatever the behemoths of the genre are presenting these days. It's also the closest you'll get to the original Sabbath sound now that the inventors of Metal have thrown in the towel.

Returning vocalist Scott Reagers' haunted voice is the biggest surprise about the whole record: his clean howls and his saturated growls are equally expressive, and if like me you used to prefer Saint Vitus with their other legendary singer Scott "Wino" Weinrich this album might just change your mind.

The rhythm section comprised of Henry Vasquez (who replaced original drummer Armando Acosta in 2012) and newcomer Pat Bruders (of Crowbar and Down) is absolutely punishing and is the perfect canvas for the twisted, evil riffs and mind-bending cacophonous solos of guitarist and mastermind Dave Chandler.

Pummeling first single Bloodshed and 12 Years in the Tomb are already classics in the Saint Vitus canon, but the whole album is full of crushing riffs and morbid melodies: the psychedelic liturgy of A Prelude To... , album opener Remains, the satanic nursery rhyme quality of Wormhole, and Useless, which concludes the album in a frantic, almost hardcore fashion.

Hopefully this is the beginning of new, long chapter in the Saint Vitus book: despite their forty years of existence they are still at the height of their powers, as the show we attended last month can attest. If you're feeling orphaned by Black Sabbath's decision to call it a day, if you enjoy aggressive, lysergic, crusty Metal, if you feel like wallowing in the sordid, putrefied sounds of the world as we know it collapsing then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this album.

Genre: Doom Metal
Release Date: May 17th, 2019
Label: Season of Mist
Rating: 7/10

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