SAINT VITUS (Lillie: F-65) LP/CD

SAINT VITUS were one of the true first sons of Black Sabbath, that I discovered in 1986. There was a fantastic record store named Garageland in the neighboring city Duisburg, which had the complete SST discography in stock. At this time, SST Records was one of my favourite record labels and I bought almost each release. One day, 'The Walking Dead' 12" EP fell into my hands and I was pretty impressed by the band logo and the live shot on the backcover. But when I was at home and put the record on the player I was totally hooked. I already knew Death Row/Pentagram, Trouble, Candlemass and The Obsessed (and I've taken each band into my heart), but SAINT VITUS' distillate of early Black Sabbath touched upon the nerves of my former attitudes to life.

In addition, there were lyrics which either dealt with the uncomfortable sides of life or are filled with old horror imagery. All this appealed to me as well as the minimalistic heaviness. Moreover, it was an absolutely refreshing heavy sound in the 1980's, because there were only very, very few bands around which related directly to early Black Sabbath. To cut a long story short, I became a huge fan of SAINT VITUS. Listening to their albums was like a religious experience for me as well as their gigs in 1989 and 1990. To a certain extent, SAINT VITUS has shaped me more than many other bands. More than 20 years has gone by since these days and up until now they have a special place in my heart. Even the band's worst album 'C.O.D.' could not change that fact. I have to admit, however, that the times are over when I have listened to SAINT VITUS each day. Basically, it happens rarely today.

Nevertheless, I was very interested when I heard that SAINT VITUS will release a new album with Scott 'Wino' Weinrich on vocals and Henry Vasquez (Blood Of The Sun) on drums. Sometimes an old flame never dies. On the whole, 'Lillie: F-65' is a solid album that features all trademarks of the Wino era of SAINT VITUS, with the exception of drummer Armando Acosta's unique style. Fortunately Henry Vasquez does not try to imitate Armando, because he got his own style of play. Otherwise everything remains the same - Dave Chandler's guitar solos are as weird as ever while the the guitar tone is heavy and hazy. Wino's vocals are sorrowful, but often angry at the same time. For my taste he's doing a great job here. 'Lillie: F-65' is largely free from any surprises, with the exception of two instrumentals named 'Vertigo' and 'Withdrawal'. To be honest, I would have preferred two proper songs and I got the feeling that SAINT VITUS run out of ideas during their time in the studio.

The opener 'Let Them Fall' as well as 'The Bleeding Ground' are the best tracks and yet the whole album doesn't really grab me although this does not mean that it's crap. It's just very predictable and SAINT VITUS fulfil their role. I would wish that Chandler & Co. had risked more, comparable to what Pentagram did on 'Last Rites'. But it seems as if they wanted to play it safe. As a result of this, 'Lillie: F-65' is no better than any other record from the Wino era (or from the Reagers era). Well as stated before, it's a solid effort. What I like best about this album is the production of Tony Dallas Reed (Mos Generator, Stone Axe, Heavy Pink, Blood Of The Sun). Without his talent and sense for music, 'Lillie: F-65' would be only half as good as it is. However, SAINT VITUS continues to prove its longevity and I am pretty sure that a lot of old and new fans will love this record - it leaves me with mixed feelings.