“40 F’n Years” goes the moniker for this year’s European tour. Forty years. Few bands are lucky to reach even half that age; let’s be honest, such is the band’s tumultuous history, it is something of a miracle the legends of doom made it to 20, let alone 40.
And yet here we are, seven years since their Wino-led comeback album Lillie: F-65, Scott Reagers takes his rightful place as warbler-in-chief not just for a celebratory European tour but a trembling new album which rightly brings the band right back to the beginning—back to where it all began. This year, Saint Vitus will be the prowling harbinger of bloodshed, the war starter, the psychopath—and rule over all doominion.
Hitting like a shotgun blast to the chest as the unmistakeable aroma of gunpowder infiltrates the brain, aging the skin and greying the hair in the process, Saint Vitus knocks you for six and cackles maniacally as it leaves you for dead.
It doesn’t do this by sheer might alone, of which there’s an immeasurable amount, but by how it catches you off guard with every listen, by how much of a valiant, sonic successor it is to 85’s Hallow’s Victim or even 95’s Die Healing, by how frenzied and vigorous Reagers’ vocals sound here, having not aged a bit since his last studio appearance. His snarl, coupled with Chandler’s signature, fuzzed-out overtures, leaves you in the dark forever looking over your shoulder with trepidation; it’s a delivery both subtle and wicked but always tremendously barbed—well that’s nothing new!
“Nothing new” is the story running rampant throughout, as here lies an album reeking of that classic sound which laid waste to an entire generation born too late so many years ago; frankly no one would have it any other way. Though “A Prelude to” and “City Park” add new dimensions to the band’s dark and hazy atmosphere with their ambient currents, the crumbling dirges of “Remains” and “Last Breath” are classic Vitus, whilst the kick-in-the-teeth aggression of “Useless” finds Chandler and company channeling their punkish roots in, frankly, spectacular fashion.
Like a crack of thunder, the couplet of “Bloodshed” and “12 Years in the Tomb” strikes down to the core, fueled by infectiously pummeling riffs and a penchant for speed, these two swaggering belters encapsulate the record’s spirit perfectly as an orgy of ruffian tones. This purely seedy vibe for which they are known infiltrates and corrupts, our souls almost blackened with sin as the music takes hold—that Saint Vitus still holds so much power is a feat unto itself.
Not so much recreating the sounds and atmosphere of the first two albums as merely being them, Candler and co. not only prove their relevance in the modern era of doom, but that they are and always will be the face of American heavy music, no matter how grey and worn. Saint Vitus more than lives up to its creator’s namesake and everything it stands for, all the while keeping its 40 year legacy intact. Saint Vitus is doom incarnate—its true tyrants.