Saint Vitus


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Notable for being the final Saint Vitus studio album to feature vocalist Scott "Wino" Weinrich, as well as the band's first recorded for a label other than career-long home base SST, 1989's simply named V was, in most other respects, a typical effort by the long suffering doom metal icons. In other words, much like all of the band's similarly "against the grain" output, its post-Sabbath acid-doom dirges and fuss-free underground metal aesthetics held absolutely zero commercial potential in a fluffy and appearance-obsessed decade like the 1980s. Still, this would have been just fine for Saint Vitus' small but dedicated fan base if not for V's somewhat obvious recycling of old ideas -- be it in the "men out of time" message of slow-charging opener "Living Backwards" (remember "Born Too Late"?), or the been-there-done-that feel of competent but familiar-sounding cuts "I Bleed Black" and "Angry Man." The same goes for incredibly slothful entries "Patra (Petra)" and "Jack Frost," leaving only the female-sung "When Emotion Dies" to wander from the beaten path. What's more, Weinrich's ever increasing prominence as an American metal treasure following this album -- both as a frontman and lead guitarist of pre-Vitus project the Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, and the Hidden Hand -- only makes it more irritating to watch his immense talents go so underutilized here, with his only solo songwriting contribution the inanely named "Ice Monkey." Of course the greatest irony in all this is that, for all its deficiencies, to modern fans too young to have experienced the band way back then -- and Saint Vitus most assuredly possess more of those fans than they had during their original existence -- V's sense of stagnation will now seem all the more impeccable for retaining its uncompromisingly "classic" sound. Heck, even older fans may be able to grasp this growth in stature when heard through refreshed ears.

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