Saint Vitus had successfully returned in 2003 after an 8 year absence, touring around the world, but had yet to release any new material until, finally, after a 17 year gap, the band released Lillie: F-65. Named after a drug, the record is as doomy and dark as Saint Vitus can get. A great return to the music scene, each song on the record is heavier, more pessimist and bleaker than the previous, making this a must have for 2012.
Saint-Saens’s Etudes offer an intricate and scintillating panoply of the French school of technique (the basis and prophecy of what Jean-Philippe Collard so mischievously called Marguerite Long’s ‘diggy-diggy-dee’ school of piano playing). Yet as Piers Lane tells us in his alternately wry and delightful accompanying essay (obligatory reading for all lovers of French pianism), they can be as evocative (‘Les cloches de las Palmas’) as they are finger-twisting (‘En forme de valse’, to name but one). The left-hand Etudes, too, given their self-imposed limitation, are a fragile and poetic surprise. In other words Saint-Saens’s Etudes are more comprehensive than their equivalents by, say, Moszkowski or Lazare Levey (superbly recorded by Ilana Vered on Connoisseur Society and Danielle Laval on French EMI, respectively – neither issued in the UK).
Guitarist Peter Vicar, who renamed himself into Peter Inverted, has gathered a strong team whereby vocalist Chritus aka Christian Linderson (ex-Saint Vitus, Count Raven, Terra Firma) is the one who put his stamp on the music because his charismatic vocals are unmistakable. It's a charming album and a few things are improvable, but this is more than just a solid start.