Their first new album since 1995 and they name it after a slang name for downers – what does that tell you? A hugely influential name in doom metal circles, Saint Vitus’ return after several periods of inactivity, reunions, live albums and all manner of tomfoolery with new material is something to celebrate, and the fact that it features the talents of doom legend Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich on vocals (his first studio recording with the band since 1990) and is a complete stormer is a bit of a bonus.
Picking up where they left off over two decades ago the band – completed by founding members Dave Chandler (guitar) and Mark Adams (bass) and relatively new drummer Henry Vasquez – fall straight back into the Black Sabbath-worshipping groove that garnered them their reputation. Opener ‘Let Them Fall’ starts instantly without any fuss and rolls along on a slow-but-not-quite-snail-pace drawl that lets you know that these guys are all still toking from the same pipe. Wino’s angry but controlled vocals sit at the front of the mix while the rest of the band grinds away like it’s 1970 all over again, and just to hammer that point home ‘The Bleeding Ground’ jabs away on a fuzzed-up repetitive riff that threatens to explode into all-out frenzy… until about 4:16 into the track when Mark Adams throws in a speedy bass riff to back up Dave Chandler’s demented solos.
But the best is yet to come, as the trippy instrumental ‘Vertigo’ leads into album highlight ‘Blessed Night’, a bass-led trip built on an immense groove that would have Lee Dorrian shaking his loon pants in approval. Which doesn’t mean the rest of the album is a letdown, as ‘The Waste of Time’ is pure Sabbath; sounding similar to ‘Electric Funeral’, you can close your eyes and picture Iommi and Butler trading those lurching riffs, although Wino’s pissed-off vocals give the song a bit more bite.
‘Dependence’ opens with over a minute’s worth of Dave Chandler’s intricate acoustic picking before a heavy change of direction leads into a bluesy riff and Wino recounting a tale of drug addiction before closer ‘Withdrawal’ ends things with a wall of feedback, ending a relatively short but ultimately satisfying album from a band who sound like they simply turned up, plugged in and played until they had enough. If you’re familiar with Saint Vitus and like your doom then you won’t need persuading to part with your cash for this. If, however, you’re new to this band and want to investigate then this is a pretty damn good place to start. Enjoy.