Monday, 30 December 2013

SAINT VITUS



I have been a Saint Vitus fan for a long time I have already posted some on here when I had the original posts of the first 40 or so SST releases but those were unfortunately lost (along with around 3 months of write ups and uploads) when 4shared FUCKED me! I had owned all of their stuff on vinyl but as you readers will know I no longer have vinyl playing equipment and in a recent vinyl for CD trade i did with a friend of mine i received their "V" and "Live" albums which in turn inspired me to ignore the high price of their SST releases and replace my long gone vinyl with CD's! So i figured a re-post of the "Lost" SST stuff and a proper post on Saint Vitus was overdue (That and the fact i can now give you everything in glorious 320kbps direct from CD! now). Onwards....

I came to Saint Vitus simply because they were on SST and i had heard a lot of good things about them, I picked up their "Thirsty And Miserable" 12" as one side was a Black Flag cover however (In my opinion at the time) the burnt out looking California hippies and one of those wearing an Alice Cooper t-shirt on the cover kinda put me off and the music itself well didn't immediately grab me lacking reference points for their gloomy rock I kinda wrote them off as one of the "crap" SST bands, however for some reason i felt compelled to keep going back to it and after a while the 2 originals on the flip of the 12" "The End Of the End" and "Look Behind You" just started to seep into my brain to the point where I became utterly addicted! I sought out what else there was at the time (around 1986 i think all there was then was their debut, "Hallows Victim",Born Too Late" and "The Walking Dead" EP) And as i said before became a BIG fan

A quick history... Saint Vitus began life as Tyrant a 3 Piece Of Dave Chandler - Guit/vox, Mark Adams - Bass and Armando Acosta - Drums (These three would remain the core of every Saint Vitus line up tho having 3 different singers over their existence these three guys ARE Saint Vitus (until Acosta's death in Nov 2010) but they soon added vocalist Scott Reagers and changed their name to Saint Vitus (Taken from Black Sabbath's song "Saint Vitus Dance" from their "Vol 4." album) This original line up of Saint Vitus would make their recording debut with their 1st self titled album on SST records in 1984 and would follow with "Hallow's Victim" album and "The Walking Dead" EP in 1985 all of which are fucking great solid Saint Vitus recordings however in 1985 vocalist Scott Reagers quit the band to be replaced by the total colossus that is Scott "Wino" Weinrich on vocals (See my post on the massive and amazing career of Wino HERE )and from this point on this is the line up of Saint Vitus that would go on to define genres and garner their reputation as THE original doom/stoner band and would be the line up that would record their most important and revered albums. There have been several twists in their long career and even a break up however lets deal with these era's individually....

Inception - 1985 - Well we've already covered the history and members so let's start with the first line up. Signing with SST in 1984 and making their debut album "Saint Vitus" shortly after, it's a pretty stunning debut as well, opening with a squal of wah-wah effected guitar noise first track "Saint Vitus" is a fairly uptempo number which is reminiscent of the kinda stuff Black Flag were doing at the time (Albeit less skewed and off the wall as Flag and with a far more retro 70's Rock/ Sabbath influence Note - Both Black Sabbath and Black Flag were a big influence on SV by their own admission and they toured with Black Flag a LOT in the 80's) However as the album unfolds you start to see the seeds been sown for what would be the trademark Saint Vitus sound gloomy riffing, slow motion drumming and heavy bass! It has to be said that Dave Chandler's guitar sound is unique and is most definitely the defining feature of Saint Vitus whilst their albums went from strength to strength it has to be said that their actual instrument sounds never really varied throughout their career sure the songwriting skills got better and better as did the bands playing but from album to album the sound had been set early and never really changed! Second album "Hallows Victim" and EP "The Walking Dead" (Both recorded at the same session in 1985) follow a similar pattern to the debut however the opening 2 tracks of "Hallows Victim", "War Is our Destiny" and "White Stallions" would remain in the bands set for the rest of their career and both make an appearance on the "Live" album some 5 years later! I would say this is testament to the strength of their material and the consistency in good writing however "White Stallions" is probably one of the most uptempo songs in their back catalog clocking in at the speed of your average SST hardcore band at the time! However these releases are not without their trademark doomier tracks see "Mystic Lady" Or "Empty Love" for evidence of this and the titanic near 12 minute ultra slow burn of "The Walking Dead" is an exercise in doom mastery! It has to be said that Scott Reagers was a great vocalist and has not received enough credit in this write up so far he was easily the equal of his peers at the time and easily as good as the likes of Eric Wagner of Trouble or Bobby Liebling of Pentagram (Both bands doing a similar if completely different take on what was later to be called "Doom" metal) Why he chose to leave the band I don't know it's something I've never really looked into but his replacement was a more than a stroke of genius for Vitus.....

Saint Vitus (84) - Mediafire

Hallow's Victim (85) - Mediafire

Walking Dead EP (85) - Mediafire

*NOTE* "Hallow's Victim" link is taken from the expanded "Hallow's Victim/Walking Dead re-issue CD and contains a bonus of "Look Behind You" from the SST comp "Blasting Concept Vol 2" and is the original version with Scott Reagers singing (Later re-recorded with Wino for the "Thirsty And Miserable" EP) and there is also a short outro as an extra bonus also from the same session.

1985 - 1989 So next phase for Vitus after Scott Reagers left the band they recruited a fairly unknown new vocalist a member of then also fairly unknown band The Obsessed a fella by the name of Scott "WINO" Weinrich! As I said before this was more than a stroke of genius/luck for the band because for me Wino just fitted the band perfectly not having the histrionic "rock" type of voice of Reagers, this was a far more "heavy" style whilst still having the ability to hold a tune Wino's doom laden vocal style was as much unique as the sound of Saint Vitus themselves and to say that he fit in with that sound well is a MASSIVE understatement when Wino wails "I was born Too late and I'll never be like YOU" on the title track of that album you fucking known he means it! To me this is where Saint Vitus hit the sound they were best known for the slow motion super heavy groove that would spawn entire scenes! First outing with Wino at the helm was the sheer fucking leadweight beast that is 1986's  "Born Too Late" less than a year from losing their original vocalist and NO momentum has been lost in the slightest and they are back with a new album and probably one of the most revered of their career, Opening with the slow crawl of the aforementioned title track "Born Too late" is a hymn to the dispossessed of society with Wino intoning Dave Chandler's lines about not being able to walk down the street without being laughed and pointed at or called a "Hairy freak" over a groove that is so damn sludgy and slow you wonder how it all doesn't collapse hideously upon itself, This new revitalized line up would become the masters of this slow groove and "Born Too late" is not an album I would choose to listen to if i was in a slump but at any other time it's utterly stunning music and there's not a bad track of the 6 on there. The following "Thirsty And Miserable" EP contains a great Vitus take on the Black Flag original seeing as it's probably one of the most vicious songs in the Black Flag discography for Vitus to slow it down and give it their unmistakeable groove is just brilliant! The 2 B-sides I mentioned at the beginning of the post are no "filler" either "Look behind you" being a re-recording of a Reagers era track but it's new song "The End of the End" that is the star of this EP whilst being more uptempo than anything from "Born..." it's main spiraling riff has an eerie creepy kinda groove but will have your head nodding in a second and once again Wino is faultless here! The Doomy theme would continue through onto next album 1988's "Mournful Cries" (Their last for SST) The doom and gloom is still prevalent here but the songwriting has come along leaps and bounds and also there is also more of a "tuneful" tone to the songs whilst still being fairly slow and sludgy they are not without memorable groove! Also Wino's performance here is epic obviously having gained confidence in his position as frontman as his vocals really fucking SOAR here, whilst i use the word "Tuneful" before It also contains some of Vitus most crushing riffs just take a listen to "Dragon Time" or "Looking Glass" for evidence.

So leaving SST for Germany's Hellhound records this incarnation of Vitus would see another two releases before the end of the 80's These being the "Live" album (An almost full set recorded live in Germany in Nov 1989) which is a damn good warts and all run through their back catlog and one of the few Live albums i actually own and like! However of more interest is their 5th and debut album for Hellhound the simply titled "V" many people consider this album to be their finest hour and the peak of their career whilst I would kinda agree with that i personally feel that though the production and sound is far superior to all the preceding albums I feel it is simply another great Saint Vitus album in a run of great Saint Vitus albums however it has to be said the opening 1-2 punch of "Living Backwards" and the mighty "I Bleed Black" is utterly flooring even by their own standards! There's still sludgy bleak grooves by the bucketload and believe me on this album the formula is perfected especially with the superior production and there's even a little acoustic and female vocaled interlude ("When Emotion Dies") it is all in all a fucking great album and easily the equal of it predecessors and most definitely a fitting epitath to the end of this era of the band.

Born Too Late (86)Mediafire

Thirsty And Miserable EP (87)Mediafire

"Mournful Cries" (88)Mediafire

"Live" (89)Mediafire

"V" (89)Mediafire

( "V" & "Live" taken from the Southern Lord remastered reissues not Hellhound versions)

1990 - 1996 - Well as i said 1989 and "V" marked the end of the "classic" era of Saint Vitus, Hellhound Records (Saint Vitus home at the time)  had, with Wino put together a retrospective of The Obsessed material and it was at this point Wino decided to Leave saint Vitus  and reform The Obsessed whilst this yielded some great material (see Wino Post linked in 3rd paragraph of this post) and The Obsessed were a great band in my opinion this was not the shrewdest move on Wino's part after an ill fated spell on Columbia the band folded in 1992.Wino's musical endeavors are chronicled elswhere.... So after losing Wino Saint Vitus went on hiatus for more than 2 years and I have to confess I don't know a great deal about what went on during this 1992-95 period, however in 1992 they returned with Christian Lindersson ex vocalist of heavyweight Swedish doomsters Count Raven and a new album "C.O.D." make no mistake Lindersson is a great vocalist falling somewhere inbetween Scott Reagers more high end "Rock" style and Wino's trademark wail however after a succession of great albums with Wino he had some big shoes to fill. Whilst this is a totally solid album by any standard compared to past glories i really feel that much as i enjoy this album and as I say it is a great album with stellar production it's just not quite "there" Lindersson does a great job of the vocals and his haunting style adds to the sound well but Dave Chandlers guitar seems to have cleaned up a lot and whilst still heavy and still uniquely his own has lost a little of the muffled Vitus fuzz of previous albums. As i say there are some solid songs and writing on this album but you have a listen for yourself and see what you think.... FFWD to 1995 and Lindersson is gone and shock of shocks Scott Reagers original Vitus Vocalist is back in the fold for 1995's "Die Healing" now this is a pretty good album the muffled fuzz tone of Chandlers guitar is in full effect on this album and Scott Reagers puts in a GREAT performance although he seems to have lost his ability to hit the notes as well as 10 years previously and tends to veer into a sorta shout/scream here and there however it adds a welcome touch of agression to his usual smooth vocals! I never hear mention of this album much from Vitus fans and i don't understand why whether it's the lack of Wino or the fact that the band were on their last legs here (Although the quality of this album would dispute that fact) but it is a solid a Saint Vitus album as any of it's predecessors there's the return of some more uptempo grooves harking back to their earliest work but there's also sludgefests aplenty and some killer riffage throughout but unfortunately this original line up reunion was not to last Reagers quit again in 1996 and it's at this point that Saint Vitus Folded permanently. The 2 albums here from this era are both great albums but seem to be kinda overlooked by the hardcore fans however i see it as Saint Vitus have always been a core trio of Chandler/Adams/Acosta despite their vocalist troubles and throughout their career Chandler wrote the bulk, in fact almost all of their music with Wino weighing in here and there and it's the Chandler penned pieces that have remained fan favourites throughout the years and to my mind they continued to make quality music right up to the end no question. See for yourselves

C.O.D. (92) - Mediafire

Die Healing (95) - Mediafire

1996 - Present - So having called it a day on Saint Vitus in 1996 the band would not be heard of again until well into the millenium where they would reappear sporadically in 2003 and again in 2008 with the classic line up of Wino/Chandler/Adams/Acosta playing live dates and even headlining the mighty Roadburn festival in Holland but in 2009 due to health problems Armando Acosta had to leave the band and later died in 2010 and was replaced By Henry Vasquez of Blood Of The Sun, however also in 2010 rumours began to fly about the possibility of new Saint Vitus material could it be possible? the reunion and touring was to be expected due to their enduring popularity and the fact that Wino was back but new material some 15 years after the last album?? However the rumors were true, in 2012 Saint Vitus released their latest album confusingly titled "Lillie : F-65" i remember reading about what the title meant and i'm sure someone will comment however the music... after a 12 year lay off and some 22 years since last recording with Wino would it be any good? Hell yeah!! again no momentum has been lost the production is clean and sparkling however this time it does not detract from Dave Chandlers trademark muffled fuzz guitar new drummer Vasquez fills Armando Acostas shoes well and as a band they all play well together there's blistering chandler solos and sludgy grooves thorughout and Wino does what he does best and with whom he does it best with. It could have very been the next day after "V" when this was recorded (if you disregard the obviously 2012 production sound) A worthy end to this post oN one of the mightiest bands to exist on earth Saint Vitus

Lillie - F-65 - Mediafire

And as an added bonus here's the free live download EP that was available from Scion A/V last year 3 BLISTERING live tracks from their appearance at the 2012 Scion A/V fest in Tampa Florida 2012

Scion A/V Fest Live EPMediafire

So does the story end there I hear you cry? Well I'll leave you with this quote from the man himself Dave Chandler when asked "Would Saint Vitus make another album after "Lillie : F-65"? "

"Right now we're just taking it step by step to see how people respond to "Lillie...". There would be no reason not to because when you're constantly playing you get a lot of ideas. We're not going to say yes or no now. There are a lot of people talking about the record so hopefully it will live up to everybody's expectations."

Here's hoping! in the meantime here's all The Saint Vitus you could ever need! Hope you enjoy it as much as i do!



*NOTE* It has been brought to my attention by an astute anonymous user that Armando Acosto was actually ousted from Saint Vitus before suffering his health problems due to tensions between himself and guitarist Scott Chandler and various bad mouthing on the internet! So there you go. thank you anonymous user.

7 comments:

  1. Didnt Armando get kicked out of Vitus and replaced a year or two before his death?

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    1. Can't claim to be completely up to date on this as I am more interested in bands recordings than say Live reunions etc but from what information I can discern from the net you are correct it appears Acosto was ousted due to personal differences and apparent bad mouthing of Scott Chandler before suffering his health problems, so i tip my hat to you sir on this occasion you are correct!

      Cheerrs,

      Dave B.

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  2. Dave B!

    "for some reason i felt compelled to keep going back to it and after a while [they] just started to seep into my brain to the point where I became utterly addicted!"


    This is pretty much exactly what happened to me. I had Program Annihilator on cassette, so I listened to it all the time. Didn't think they were 'crap', but just didn't really 'get' it. At the time 'doom metal' didn't exist - I just thought "Sabbath with (Reager's) B.Ö.C. vocals - big deal - bring on the punk!" - those bands were yesterday's news - bring on the punk!!

    Ironically, most of what I thought was 'punk' on that tape - Würm, Overkill, even Black Flag by '85 - were really 'punk metal' and regular punk ended up not being my bag. Of course, when the grunge bands started appearing - it was all part of the same continuum to me.

    Your blog is THE BEST.

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    1. Thanks MarsHottentot my exposure to SST stuff began with Husker Du my best friend at the time got their "Makes No Sense" 7" and although it wasn't like the noisy punk i was into at the time they kinda became a guilty pleasure then once we heard Black Flag that was it then the floodgates opened! The thing is i would say very little of the early SST stuff was punk at all they just mined a bunch of unique sounding bands that had punk influences Black Flag ceased to be punk from My War forward the Minutemen were just high energy rhythm driven funk Meat Puppets were acid heads who did noisy punk influenced Psych etc etc and i agree there was a huge heavy metal influence on SST bands and i definitely agree with "Grunge" being part of the continuum the decent non commercial stuff anyway like Tad, Mudhoney etc i think the likes of Sub Pop & Amphetamine Reptile Basically inherited the SST mantle when ginn started releasing a lot of shit music on SST! I also have to say i think that was my problem with Saint Vitus in the beginning i had no "box" to put them in there was no doom/stoner whatever around so here's this slow creepy metal music that my only reference point for is Sabbath! Great band and like most SST stuff defys genre-ising! Thanks for your great comment and glad you are enjoying the blog,

      Cheers,

      Dave B.

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  3. Yeah, I agree with everything you're saying and YES, when I say 'grunge' I mean the early stuff - as I'm sure you remember, true grunge was pretty much dead in the underground before Nevermind even came out.

    Yeah, Ginn released something like 80 records in '89 or '90 on SST. That was more than most majors at the time - Insane!

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    1. I have to say that there was very little beyond the first 100 SST releases that was worth listening to apart from BL'AST! Sonic Youth,Firehose, Dinosaur Jr. and a very few one offs even the Meat Puppets albums of that era were atrocious Ginn had totally lost it by the late 80's/early 90's and i honestly believe the great stuff he had on SST previous to that had been down to luck and networking more than any sense on his behalf of truly GREAT music however the majority of those first 100 redefined undergound music and set the stall out for underground guitar music for the future so kudos for that! And yeah i agree grunge was pretty much dead by the time the world became infatuated with it "Nevermind" was a blistering album though I can't even listen to it now! But Good For You has been pretty much the only saving grace for Ginn since 1990!

      Cheers,

      Dave B.

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  4. Well, you know, it turns out Chuck Dukowski did most of the talent scouting. When he split and it was Greg alone - that's when it all went downhill. I LOVE Greg's playing - but the man seems to have absolute zero impulse control - even now, putting out records with 22 songs, I mean - if he had trimmed What The... down to eight songs, rather than the weird 'fuck you' 16 song suite plus six other tracks (one of which is a Good For You outtake with Ron on vox) - it might have had a fighting chance.

    But, really, I think it was on purpose (still trying to work out 'why') - I mean, look at Good For You Too. Pretty sure it was recorded at the same time (probably the same session) and it's got some insanely good shit on it - "No Ghetto", "Coal Town Blues", "Against Me", "Man of Steal", "White Rap" (you know that goofy song is an earworm). Too long, should have been split up, sure, but it's leaps and bounds ahead of that Black Flag record.

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