Saturday, 17 October 2009

Saint Vitus - Saint Vitus (1984, SST Records)

Version reviewed: Bootleg CD (I didn't know when I bought it) also featuring "Hallow's Victim".

Back in 1984, Saint Vitus' doomy debut had a dirty secret for hardcore punk fans expecting more obvious SST fare. Yes, it only had five tracks, but the album lasts the best part of 36 minutes. It also gets slower and slower and s l o w e r as it goes on.

Track one, self-titled "Saint Vitus", is one of the speedier songs in Saint Vitus' repertoire and tells the story of the real (allegedly) "Saint Vitus" who's 'dance' was also immortalised in a Black Sabbath album track. It announces the band quite well - Dave Chandler's analog equipment and wah wah pedal use really drove the band. Reagers' vocals are not as strong as they would later become, but they never approach disgusting or anything.

"White Magic/Black Magic" is a song I find more than a little annoying. The guitars are good, I suppose, but I don't know why Reagers' vocals on the chorus make me want to cry. It's just too cute.

"Zombie Hunger" is a classic Vitus track and would later get it's own follow up on "Die Healing", the final Saint Vitus album.

"The Psychopath" is the first Vitus epic and the longest song on here. It's also one of the best, progressing from a creepy beginning and a suprisingly effective verse including the vocals (!), the whole song is very emotional for Saint Vitus. This is a good example of a song that Reagers' does well, that is great and could also never be done in the Wino years. Dave has some great effects in his solo around the five minute mark that works very well with the playing, which is a long emotive guitar solo.

"Burial at Sea" starts with a menacing bassline and what sounds like glass bottles being hit together, while Dave makes truly out of this world sounds on guitar. Eventually, a supremely slow and punishing riff begins that is one of the best Saint Vitus ever came up with. Reagers' is theatrical but in this case it definetely helps the song ("Neptune, please help meee! Don't - Want - No- Bur-Ia-L at Seeeea!"). At four minutes, there's a faster section which is very enjoyable. It all amounts to one of Vitus' doomiest and best songs ever.

Overall, Saint Vitus' first album established firmly Saint Vitus' stature as slow metal to the core. It's a bonafide classic in it's own right, and subsequent albums all took very different approaches.

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