"Lillie: F-65"

By Earthdog

One of the most anticipated doom metal albums of 2012 is about to be released in a few weeks. Of course I am talking about 'Lillie: F-65' by doom legends Saint Vitus. A lot was riding on this album for me personally. I am a huge fan of the band and some of their albums rank as my favorite doom albums of all time so for this album to come close to those would always be a challenge. I will get my main gripe out-of-the-way first and I am sure you will read this from many other writers over the coming months as well. This album is way too short... the total playing time is a pathetic 34:29 and in this day and age, that is just not enough music. I am sure they are trying to keep this new album in line with the classic vinyl of the past in terms of its length but I find it very disappointing that after all these years; all they can muster up is 34 minutes of new music. Also take into account that one song, 'Blessed Night' has been a live staple already for a long time so take that out of the equation and you get less than 30 minutes worth of new tunes.

Now with that out-of-the-way, it has to be noted that 'Lillie: F-65' is a no-nonsense Saint Vitus album and they deliver exactly what the Vitus fan wants to hear from them. There is no bending of their sound and not much experimentation but fans wouldn't want it any other way. Dave Chandler's guitar sound is intact after all these years; he still has that abrasive, nasty sound and Wino's vocals are as expressive and as down to earth as ever. Scott “Wino” Weinrich is one of the most charismatic artists to emerge from the doom scene and the vocals on this album drive that point home even further. As well as some of the best vocals that Wino has ever delivered, lyrically this has the best lyrics ever put down onto a Saint Vitus album. Songs like 'The Bleeding Ground' where Wino tells stories about secret Government drug testing is just one example of the totally captivating lyrical approach this album has to offer.

The album starts off in typical Saint Vitus doomed dirge style with 'Let Them Fall' Vocals follow the riffs or is it the other way around, either way it is simple, straight-forward stuff but that is what you want to hear, right? The riffing is depressing and kind of morose and the vocal style is one of pure pain but the song itself seems a bit underdone at just four minutes. It is hardly a dud track but it is still a rather under-whelming opening track. 'The Bleeding Ground' follows and there is a rise in songwriting quality. Musically, it is Vitus at their best and features easily the best lyrics on the album. It has a classic start-stop arrangement which is something they nailed so well back on the 'Born Too Late' album in 1986. The guitar work is also some of Chandler's finest; even finding time to add some rare melodic touches to the track. 'The Bleeding Ground' is a major highlight and will be for many people, the best track on 'Lillie: F-65.'

Just 10 minutes into the album and they go into a short instrumental titled 'Vertigo' and it is again surprisingly melodic but it acts as the perfect lead in to the next track 'Blessed Night.' Seeing as this track has been played live for at least a year already, the track already seems like an old friend. The track highlights how well drummer Henry Vasquez has fitted into the band. The Blood Of The Sun drummer is of course a very skilled drummer capable of dynamic drum rolls and classic 70's styled drumming perfection but he can also do the basic, stripped down doom approach with ease too and his drumming shines on 'Lillie F-65.' Now as much as this album is a morose dark affair, it is not till you get to 'The Waste of Time' that the album goes full-tilt doom. This track is about as 'bleak' as Saint Vitus gets and it signals a shift into darker, more depressing realms of doom metal for the rest of the album. The album's second half in my opinion is far stronger than the first and far more atmospheric and it also supplies the best two tracks of 'Lillie: F-65' starting with 'The Waste of Time.'

'The Waste Of Time' bleeds into 'Dependence' and it has taken a while but finally the band is running at the peak of its powers. 'Dependence' is a complete Vitus track with all the elements that make Saint Vitus such a much-loved band including a sabbathian passage towards the end of the track. It has the screeching guitar work of Chandler and the downtrodden but down to earth vibe and is classic Vitus material and a great way to end the album. I say end because there is one more track but I honestly find it close to un-listenable. It is basically Dave Chandler trying to destroy the eardrums of listeners and doing a pretty good job of it but it is also mundane to listen to. I dig Dave's guitar work as much as any dedicated Saint Vitus listener but this instrumental outro piece just seems pointless and self-indulgent; especially when the album is already too short as it is. Wasting  3 minutes of playing time on a track of a guitarist getting his rocks off might be interesting for one or two spins but after that, it becomes pure "skip" material.

The production on 'Lillie F-65' by T. Dallas Reed is great and while it lacks the charm of "Born Too Late" or "Die Healing"; it is technically the best mix the band has ever had on an album. The first half of the album is half great, half ordinary but even the ordinary passages are still better than most other bands. The second half of the album is where the release really shines apart from the time-wasting noise-fest that closes the album. 'Lillie F-65' is good but underdone, way too short and has a couple of less than spectacular tracks so it is far from perfect. For Saint Vitus fans like myself, it is still highly recommended but for other people not sold on Saint Vitus, this won't go changing your mind on the band. I rate the quality of this album in the middle of their catalog of recordings. It is far from the worse but not close to the best. It will end up near the top of 2012 album list regardless......8/10.