Saint Vitus V

Originally released in 1990, the fifth album by now cult-doom act Saint Vitus was the last studio album that Scott "Wino” Weinrich recorded with the band before jumping ship to re-form the Obsessed. Most of the album is dominated by the fret board bendings of master doomist Dave Chandler, who wrote the majority of both songs and lyrics. Opener "Living Backwards” is a typical Vitus vehicle, but the heat doesn’t rise until the exemplary "I Bleed Black,” also featured on 1991’s groundbreaking Dark Passages doom compilation (the debut release on the UK label Rise Above, founded by Cathedral’s Lee Dorrian). "When Emotion Dies” is an excellent acoustic track along the same lines as Black Sabbath’s "Planet Caravan,” with brooding vocals by Chandler and able-throated chanteuse Fiona McMillian, one of the first doom tunes to incorporate the female voice (and later copied to similarly great effect by My Dying Bride and Novembers Doom, among others). The listlessness of "Patra (Petra)” calls to mind Dylan Carlson’s Earth, thanks to the snail-paced throb of drummer Armando Acosta, while "Ice Monkey” could easily be an old Spirit Caravan track with Wino’s wildly tangential soloing. "Jack Frost” is another slow-burner with Hendrix-ish noise at the coda. This Southern Lord re-issue sports a bonus video of Wino’s first show with Vitus in 1986; the setlist includes "Saint Vitus,” "Prayer For The (M)Asses,” and the wailing "White Stallions.” The audio pick-up of Wino’s vocals is terrible, but watching Chandler hem and haw while coaxing those amazing riffs out of his guitar is absolutely priceless. (Southern Lord)