At the end of last month, the doom legends Saint Vitus released their first studio album in 17 years, Lillie: F-65. They've got Scott "Wino" Weinrich taking back over on vocals from Scott Reagers. Both men have long histories with the band, but I've personally always preferred Wino, so I'm glad to see him back for this.
It's difficult, when a band hasn't released any new material in nearly two decades, to properly calibrate one's expectations. It seems obvious that the group's glory days are behind them, and that anything new they offer us now will be hard pressed to enter into the musical canon alongside their classic material. Beyond that, though, it's impossible to say. The new work could be strong, recalling the band's former glory, but it could also be an absolute train wreck. In this case, I'm inclined to say this is the former.
Saint Vitus have, in my opinion, been pretty successful in recapturing the sound and feel of their late-80s recordings. The guitar riffs are stylistically right out of their classic doom works, and the crazily distorted guitar solos still pop out of the tracks from time to time. The drumming is still reserved yet effective. Wino's vocals sound as good as ever, but that's not terribly surprising since he's never really stopped producing records over the years since his departure from the band. All in all, it's a very solid record that captures what any Saint Vitus fan would hope for in a come-back album.
Naturally this does mean a few other things as well. At this point, nothing the album does even approaches breaking new ground. The songs are new, but they all sound like something we've heard from the band before. Of course nobody hopes that an old favorite will reunite to produce something experimental and strange, and that severely limits where a new record by an old group can really go. So that leaves us with an album that satisfies expectations, but which doesn't bring any surprises or innovations to the table.
Rock solid old-school doom straight from the masters. If you like old Saint Vitus you'll like this, if you don't then you won't.