Saint Vitus – Saint Vitus
Reviewed: June, 2019
Released: 2019, Season of Mist
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
I had to fact check myself the other day to confirm that it’s really been 7 years since LILLIE F-65 was released. Seems unreal that it’s already been that long, but when you’re Saint Vitus, I suppose time is subjective and everything intentionally moves…very…slooowwwwwwwly.
A lot has transpired with Saint Vitus since then. Mark II vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich was busted in Norway for smuggling dope and ousted from the band, eventually paving the way for original vocalist Scott Reagers to return to the family (again), and Down’s Pat Bruders quietly stepped into replace original bass player Mark Adams before publicly disclosing that the latter was suffering from Parkinson’s and could no longer physically participate with the band. And somewhere between all of that, Dave Chandler found the time to write a truly killer comeback record.
40 years into a legendary career filled with highs, lows, and lowers, SAINT VITUS sounds like a band that still has something to left to prove. There’s a level of energy, and quite frankly consistency, across this new batch of tunes that’s been absent since the SST days. Rest assured, there’s nothing markedly different in Saint Vitus 2019 vs. Saint Vitus 1984; they’re just doing it much, much better today. Tunes like “Bloodshed” and “12 Years in the Tomb” rage with proof that Chandler can still write mean galloping, riffs while murky behemoths like “Hour Glass” and “Last Breath” echo the classic desperation of “Mystic Lady” or “The Walking Dead”. And contrary to its predecessor, you feel like you’re getting a full album’s worth of songs that are intentionally strung together and not just a few choice cuts rounding out a lot of filler.
And sure, there’s a nostalgia factor at play with Reagers being back behind the mic. Beyond being the original vocalist for the band, the last time he was on an album was for the band’s 1995 (then) swansong DIE HEALING. Having him return for this newest chapter of the band’s history and a time when they’ve arguably never been popular is pretty damn awesome. And as much as I love the Wino-era material, there’s something special about Reagers’ inimitable warble matched against Dave Chandler’s wah drenched noodling. Plus, the guy can still sing his ass off.
Alongside Pentagram and Trouble, Saint Vitus helped lay the groundwork for what we recognize today as the modern doom metal scene, and SAINT VITUS stands as testimony to that. Whether it’s your first introduction or an overdue reintroduction to the band, doom metal doesn’t get much better than this.