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Saint Vitus

Considered one of the most influential American doom and sludge metal ensembles, Saint Vitus emerged in the early 1980s alongside monolithic contemporaries like Pentagram, Trouble, and Witchfinder General. With a sound torn from the pages of the gospel of Black Sabbath, the band issued a string of authoritative albums, including Saint Vitus (1984), Born Too Late (1986), V (1990), and Die Healing (1995) before ceasing operations in 1996. The ensuing years saw them occasionally reconvene for a handful of live performances, but they made it official in 2012 when they released their long-awaited eighth studio LP, Lillie: F-65, with a second eponymous LP arriving in 2019. Originally formed as Tyrant in 1979 by vocalist Scott Reagers, guitarist Dave Chandler, bassist Mark Adams, and drummer Armando Acosta, Los Angeles' Saint Vitus was named after a young medieval saint whose beheading and violent death throes gave rise to the gruesome expression ("Saint Vitus Dance" was also the name of a Black Sabbath song from the Vol. 4 album). Though they couldn't help but be slightly influenced by the SoCal hardcore scene thriving all around them (especially on their early releases), the quartet was a card-carrying disciple of Sabbath's dreary doom metal commandments, specializing in amazingly slow, ponderous power chords and a highly unfashionable biker image. Their eponymous 1984 debut was released by Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn's SST label, and was followed in quick succession by the Walking Dead EP and the Hallow's Victim album the very next year. Progress was slow, but the band continued to improve despite the departure of vocalist Reagers, thanks to the arrival of former Obsessed frontman and sometime-guitarist Scott "Wino" Weinrich for 1986's Born Too Late -- generally regarded as their best effort. The following year's Thirsty and Miserable EP and 1988's Mournful Cries found greater acclaim in Europe than America and marked the end of the group's relationship with SST. New label Hellhound released 1989's V as well as a career-spanning live album recorded in Germany a year later. But despite all this hard work, the band seemed incapable of breaking new ground or achieving anything even resembling commercial success. As their disillusionment grew and Wino quit the group to re-form the Obsessed, the release of an SST greatest-hits set called Heavier Than Thou seemed like the final chapter for Saint Vitus. New singer Christian Linderson appeared on 1992's C.O.D., and though the original lineup would briefly reconvene for a last hurrah with 1995's Die Healing, the group officially called it quits the following year. In 2003 Weinrich, Chandler, Adams, and Acosta re-formed for a one-off gig at the Double Door in Chicago. That same crew came together again for a 2009 European tour, but Acosta left shortly thereafter to deal with health issues -- he passed away the following year. Undeterred, Saint Vitus inked a deal with Season of Mist, and headed into the studio with a lineup consisting of Weinrich, Chandler, Adams, and new drummer Henry Vasquez. The resulting Lillie: F-65, the band's first collection of new music in 17 years, was released in 2012. In 2016, Mark Adams announced that he had been battling Parkinson's disease and would be leaving the fold, so the band brought in seasoned bassist Patrick Bruders (Down, Goatwhore, Crowbar). Bruders made his studio debut on the group's eponymous ninth long-player in 2019.
© Eduardo Rivadavia /TiVo
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