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Saint Vitus - Die Healing

by Matt Hensch

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"Die Healing" is the sound of the beginning of the end. It actually was Saint Vitus' final statement back in 1995 before they went silent for several years, returning in 2012 with "Lillie: F-65" over a decade after the age of "Die Healing." Although this is definitely one of the band's strongest efforts, it was released at a strange time: Saint Vitus' stint with one-and-done vocalist Christian Linderson had ended after the conflicted "C.O.D." brought the group into a black sheep phase of sorts, while Saint Vitus, like many of its cohorts, was fading into obscurity. However, Saint Vitus' funeral march is easily one of the best records these doom veterans ever released, pretty much on par with the band's classic offerings, and one of the most authentic doom metal albums around.

The biggest thing that brought down "C.O.D" was its chintzy production—that pristine clarity hadn't done much for a fuzzy group like Saint Vitus. On "Die Healing," the sound quality appears focused and clean, but with the sort of grit that makes it feel like Dave Chandler's crew is behind the wheel. While not a huge diversion from the usual Saint Vitus output, "Die Healing" is simply far more consistent and memorable than the works that had foretold its coming. Part of this infatuation is due to the return of Scott Reagers, whose vocals on a handful of the group's primordial recordings greatly enriched the miserable beginnings of these doom demigods. Here, Reagers sounds like Wino wearing a Dr. Seuss hat; his dark, gloomy, awesomely comical and lively vocals are like grey spots within an ocean of black.

I guess one of the nice things about Saint Vitus' discography is that the band never underwent an interpersonal clouding that resulted in the group waking up in some creative wasteland. "Die Healing," while traditional in its roots, is reasonably one of the finest representations of Saint Vitus' sound. The lethargic, slowed paces are not atypical, but Chandler's riffs are absolutely prime, some of the finest licks he's ever put down on tape. In general, however, the songs make the album an experience that is far more interesting and enamoring than "C.O.D." Every tune is great, but "The Sloth" and "In the Asylum" are eight-minute crucifixions of bruising doom, while "Just Another Notch" delivers an up-tempo slice of driving guitar work. Between the three, I'm torn.

The pantheon of Wino has remained the main attraction within the camp of Saint Vitus, but "Die Healing" has turned a piece of my heart into something miserable, bleak, and withered. I had the amazing opportunity to see Saint Vitus live several years after the release of "Die Healing." Although I left the show feeling very satisfied, that little piece cried out for the droning riffs, the raw beatings, the unhurried madness that closed the book on Saint Vitus for several years. "Die Healing" is simply in a world of its own, and it represents everything that Saint Vitus stands for with utmost precision and gloom. It's the coldest blaze of glory I've ever heard.


Saint Vitus - Die Healing
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