Saturday, 17 October 2009

Saint Vitus - Mournful Cries (1988, SST Records)

"Mournful Cries", which is Saint Vitus' fourth album and last for SST Records, finds the band continuing down the path set forth on "Born too Late", the previous album. Notable differences include the heightened fantasy content of the lyrics, which frequently cover similar ground to "Born too Late", but from a more distanced perspective and the fact that "...Cries" features Scott "Wino" Weinrich on lead guitar as well as vocals. He has a totally different soloing style to the great Dave Chandler and really adds something to these songs.

Like "Born too Late", the album proper is only six songs long ("Born..." later had the "Thirsty and Miserable" EP attached to the end) but considerably more varied. First track "The Creeps" (which would later be ripped off by SST head Greg Ginn for one of his later "Gone" albums) is a return to the "Hallow's Victim" up-tempo song stylings and lasts less than three minutes! Immediately following that, is one of the slowest songs on the album, "Dragon Time". The lyrics are very, very silly but the music is very good, and it's a good example of Wino's "cleaner than Dave Chandler" style lead guitar acting as a massive expansion of the Vitus sound. The song is very slow, but never plods, and uses it's slow tempo and long style to really build an atmosphere around.
"Shooting Gallery" is another fine song, but it goes on forever. Too many repeats on this one.
"Bitter Truth" is a song that just annoys me, but it does feature the first appearance of acoustic guitar on a Saint Vitus record and fairly straightforward, real world lyrics.
"The Troll" is much better, serving as one of the most genuinely affecting songs on the album. The lyrics, like most of the others, are fantastical, but it's clearly talking about something a bit more down to earth.
"Looking Glass" is another classic, a kind of cross between the first two tracks. In other words, it's a midtempo number with some great lead guitar work from both guitarists.

I could go on and on about nothing with this band, but really, the question with a song by any band like this is: are the riffs, melodies and playing good? The answer is yes. The band is as on top of it's songwriting game as it was on the past three albums and, like the previous album, the production is very good and Wino's vocals are a definite compliment to the Vitus sound. While "Mournful Cries" does not have any single song as standout as the "Born Too Late" title track, it does have stronger songs overall and is a highlight of the band's fine catalogue.

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