Saint Vitus Biography

Despite being commercially and critically ignored for the duration of their existence, Saint Vitus (the name was culled from Black Sabbath’s Vol 4) left behind an influential body of work. Formed in the USA during 1979 as Tyrant, by guitarist Dave Chandler, drummer Armando Acosta, bass player Mark Adams and vocalist Scott Reagers, the band laboured for several years without a record contract before signing with Californian label SST Records (apparently at the insistence of Black Flag vocalist Henry Rollins). Saint Vitus, however, were a very different proposition to their new labelmates. Their sound, a slow ponderous take on Black Sabbath at their bleakest also contained elements of Blue Cheer’s electric buzz had very few contemporaries at all, especially among the label’s other bands.

Their self-titled debut, despite suffering from a patchy production, set out the blueprint for their later efforts. Hallows Victim and The Walking Dead EP followed soon afterwards. The band then embarked on an American tour, but by the time they reached Washington, DC, Reagers had left. An impromptu audition saw the band recruit former Obsessed vocalist and Washington local Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich despite Chandler’s initial reservations. Born Too Late bluntly laid out the band’s credo, with their slow doom style contrasting sharply with the burgeoning hardcore and thrash metal bands of the era. Weinrich’s gruff vocals added a new dimension to the band’s sound. The Thirsty And Miserable EP and Mournful Cries pre-empted to a move to Germany’s Hellhound Records label. V and the disappointing Live followed soon afterwards, but tension in the band escalated when Hellhound gained the rights to the Obsessed’s previously unreleased studio sessions (The Purple Album) and coerced Weinrich into re-forming his former band for a European tour.

The musical freedom proved too much for Weinrich and on his return to Saint Vitus an argument about the band’s new material and direction prompted him to leave them and continue with the Obsessed. His replacement was Christian Lindersson of Swedish doom metal band Count Raven, but 1992’s C.O.D. failed to make much of an impression and the singer departed. Reagers rejoined the band in time for their swan song, 1995’s Die Healing. It is ironic that just as the nascent doom, sludge rock and stoner scenes was developing in the USA and Europe, Chandler decided he had had enough. Years of struggle had given the band little in the way of commercial success and they had gained little more than a cult following over the years. They have, however, extended a powerful influence over many latter-day bands, including such luminaries as Corrosion Of Conformity, Orange Goblin and Goatsnake.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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