Review Summary: Saint Vitus re-establish themselves as one of the finest doom metal bands ever
Saint Vitus had successfully returned in 2003 after an 8 year absence, touring around the world, but had yet to release any new material until, finally, after a 17 year gap, the band released Lillie: F-65
. Named after a drug, the record is as doomy and dark as Saint Vitus can get. A great return to the music scene, each song on the record is heavier, more pessimist and bleaker than the previous, making this a must have for 2012.
follows the same formula, with the band churning simple, classic yet effective doom metal just like they always did. At 34 minutes, nothing here goes to waste, it just helps creating the somber atmosphere. Starting with a highlight, "Let Them Fall" sounds as classic Saint Vitus. The scorching guitars give way to Weinrich's sparse and coarse vocals. The angry and demoralized chorus is the starting point of descending into a worse state of mind followed throughout the record: “Why do I scream at them/They never listen/Why do I beat my head/Against the wall/I made a simple plan/They complicate it/Now they’re near the edge/Let them fall”. Halfway through the song, Dave Chandler's guitar solo rips to a disorienting feeling, giving even more weight to "Let Them Fall". Despite the minimalist instrumentation, all the songs build together this sonic wall led by Chandler's dominating guitars. "The Bleeding Ground" finds Weinrich singing about the Government's drug testing, taking the forefront over the stop-start rhythms on the verses. Towards the end, the slow burner breaks into fast stoner metal, giving the listener what he needs, a change of pace. Again Chandler's solos are really interesting and good, the first at one point bordering on feedback, barely keeping any notes, while the second at the end is pure shredding.
Giving the listener a break, the Weinrich-penned acoustic instrumental "Vertigo" is a nice detour from the beasts that surround it. It also shows this record is not one sided as one might think after listening to the first songs. The next tracks grow even murkier, bleaker and one more dissonant than the other. Wino's voice gets more and more abrasive and imposing too, keeping very well with the album's direction. All the agony culminates in the last 11 minutes, made up by Dependence and Withdrawal, which make for an ugly end to the album. Starting with a haunting, soft riff before bursting to a slow, seething behind Weinrich's voice that signalizes impending doom in the last verse (“Woke up sick again today/It doesn’t really matter/My end is here, nothing else to do/I depended on you”). Disturbing but really good solos are spread all around the track, "Dependence" holding a 2 minute feedback at one point, after which Weinrich impassionately delivers the final lyrics, segueing into "Withdrawal" that is nothing but feedback from Dave Chandler. One might find this as indulgent, but even if the song will be skipped most of the times, it's the brutal, naked ending to Lillie: F-65
, keeping in theme with the drug abuse. After all, Saint Vitus are not renowned for any delicacy in their music.
As with most doom records, the listener has to be in mood to give this a spin and truly understand and enjoy the music presented here. It's easy to dismiss the record as being short and indulgent at times, but this is what makes it great, it's long enough to keep the listener attentive and its ugly and depressing atmosphere is essential.