A rollercoaster ride that ends in disappointment
Los Angeles California (U.S.A.) act Saint Vitus are one of the pioneers of doom metal alongside countrymen Trouble and Pentagram, and their European peers Candlemass (Sweden) and Witchfinder General (England). Like any band that undergoes line-up changes during their career, there’s always that one variant that fans will claim is the “classic line-up” depending on their perspective. With Saint Vitus that view typically encompasses Saint Vitus’ 1986-1991 line-up of vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, founding members Dave Chandler (guitarist), Mark Adams (bassist) and Armando Acosta (drums). Of course there’ll always be different opinions but with new drummer Henry Vasquez taking over behind the kit in 2009, finally, after almost 17 years, the first new Saint Vitus album is unleashed.
On first impressions, Lillie: F-65 is certainly an unusual name. Digging further, it seems that it’s the name of a barbiturate that band had used once upon a time so no doubt there’s some connection there and perhaps there is some significance or reason behind the band choosing this name. The only link I see with this album is that just as drug users go through ups and downs, so too does this album. There are some real highs and some real lows as well. It’s an album of extremes – not in the sense of “brutal metal” or what have you – but in the sense of engaging music versus filler.
The opening strains of Let Them Fall pretty much set the tone of the album. It’s trademark Saint Vitus doom but, in saying that, it’s not one of the highlights. Sure, it’s solid enough and Wino and crew sound very good but the song itself isn’t exactly the most amazing number on here and certainly not a great opening track. It’s a little too pedestrian as it meanders through droning power chord after droning power chord. Things pick up with the heavy sounding The Bleeding Ground – it’s the first of only a duo of standout tracks on Lillie: F-65 sans the directionless lead break. With only seven tracks ticking just over 34 minutes, there’s not a lot that forms a solid base to this album.
Really, if you’re going to make a compact album like this, it absolutely has to be all killer, no filler. For Lillie: F-65, that isn’t the case. Sure, tracks like the previously mentioned The Bleeding Ground and the brilliant lead single Blessed Night show just how well these guys can write but in around that are just as many “interlude” type tracks that just fill the gaps really. Ultimately, that is the downfall of this album. There is too much directionless filler. If the band is trying to create some kind of mood or something with this album, then it falls well short of even that.
There’s too much waffle and not enough substance here for mine. What could have or even should have been an amazing return for this legendary act is borderline frustrating. Hopefully the signs of what could have been point to something more positive for their next outing.
(Season of Mist/Riot! Entertainment)