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It’s almost like a scene from a movie. A mountain town, a record store nearly under a bridge, dozens of copies of REO Speedwagon, Boston and Pink Floyd records. Digging can really turn up some positive results. When I found the black cover with metallic lettering that simply said “Saint Vitus”, I walked straight to the checkout and proudly purchased it. I had heard of Saint Vitus before but that was all I knew, their name. How fitting is it that this was the first record to be played on my very first record player. This album really did start it all for me.
Having not heard Doom Metal prior to Saint Vitus (besides Sabbath…), I really didn’t like this when I put it on. I didn’t have a total revelation listening to it the first time. The chunky, fuzzy, simple riffing and pulsing rhythms were just okay. The vocals really threw me off. But I didn’t want it to end like this. Look at these dudes on the insert, standing in a cemetery probably in the middle of L.A. …I owe it to them. Why were they on SST? I had to play it again, and again. I couldn’t pinpoint the moment I understood the record. Slowly I picked out parts that made more sense. Turning up the volume a bit more each time, until this became one of the most impacting albums I had ever listened to.
I don’t think an in-depth description of the music itself is very necessary. This is a Doom Metal essential. Obviously not loved by all, but pretty well respected. The music is like being stuck in the riff of ‘Children of the Grave’ that gradually slows tempo as the album plays (until the crushing ending). Lyrically, this album follows the dark imagery Sabbath portrayed also. This really is pure Sabbath/Black Flag worship. I think the influence of Black Flag on Saint Vitus is overlooked a lot of the time, considering Black Flag was in debt to Sabbaths sound anyways.
This self-titled effort is one of those releases that was perfect for the time. The production is flawed, the vocals are turned up too loud, the guitar is foggy. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Instrumentally the rhythms section is decent and Dave Chandler’s guitar work is creative with effect use of the wah pedal. Scott Reagers’ vocal harmonies that are belted out are very captivating and sinister. I’m not sure if it’s possible to strip down metal any more basic and make such a record that would affect an entire genre. Saint Vitus is an important band who helped further doom to what it is today, don’t forget your roots.
“Join the dead men – who cannot die
Committed forever – to soar 'cross the sky
Skull and crossbones – a field of black
Laughs insanely – but no one laughs back”