Die Healing (Hellhound, 1995)
To avoid leaving us with the bitter taste of C.O.D. in our mouths, Vitus brought Scott Reagers back into the fold for this parting shot. They also trimmed the fat a tad, Die Healing being eight tracks, just under 50 minutes—still considerably longer than any of their 80’s records, mind you. Some people say it’s their finest effort, and while I beg to differ, they certainly ended off on a high note.
“Dark World” starts things off nice and slow, some solid head-nodding material, and then the voice comes in. Reagers might be a little hoarser than he used to be, and he doesn’t quite hold some of the notes as long as he used to, but he clearly seems right at home here. “One Mind” has a bit more Sabbathian groove, a riff structure that allows Reagers’ voice to shine, with some killer doom breakdowns. Pretty sweet tune.
“Let the End Begin” slows things down again, with Chandler occupying a higher register throughout. We do get a speedy guitar solo before things are brought back to a snail’s pace. “Trail of Pestilence” is another slow stomper, Reagers waxing on about the evils of war once again—albeit this time in the past tense. Likewise, “Sloth” isn’t about a three-toed creature, either. This uber-slow number also excoriates the evils of man, Reagers crooning over a menacing drumbeat as grinding, growling riffs ring out behind him. That said, the chorus is actually kinda groovy, while Reagers dispels any notion he can’t hit the high notes anymore. (Yeah, I take that back…)
“Return of the Zombie” employs some effects on Reagers’ vocals which are a little hit-and-miss, though Dave Chandler delivers a decent doomy riff behind him. “In the Asylum” tackles mental illness from the experience of an invalid, Reagers sounding like a creepy horror-movie narrator as he tells the tale of a woman who’s been committed—with an interesting twist at the end. Another slow, sparsely-laid-out tune, some downtrodden, distorted riffs trading off with Reagers’ tale of woe. This even reminds me of OTIS, just a tad. “Just Another Notch” ends this one, Vitus’ first out-of-love song since “Just Friends (Empty Love).” This one’s a little more aggressive and threatening, though, without that catchy chorus—and some weird spoken-word bit in its stead. Maybe not the best way to end the album, IMO.
In any case, Die Healing was a well-written epitaph to Saint Vitus’ hallowed career. They sure went out in style here—though this would not end up being the end, after all…