Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hallow's Victim

Saint Vitus holds a very special place deep in my heart. No band better captured the sound of losing and frustration better than Vitus. At the risk of over-intellectualizing them too much, I would dare to say that Vitus is as close as postmodern times gets to real gritty down-and-out, gonna-kill-my-woman blues music. Saint Vitus weren't virtuosos by any stretch of the imagination, but they had passion and soul in spades. You almost get the impression that Saint Vitus wanted to be a better band, but bullshit like hangovers, shitty, unfulfilling jobs, and jail constantly got in the way of such lofty goals. Saint Vitus were real, maybe too real, flesh and bone hippie throwback burnouts shuffling through the sand-blown streets of Redondo Beach with apocalyptic doom-laden riffs rolling around in their sun-softened craniums. Essentially Saint Vitus was a band made up of those weird knife-wielding bikers without bikes that hang out shirtless at the beach waiting for someone to fucking crack wise, "I fucking dare you to say something, motherfucker!!!" Being from Redondo Beach the band caught the attention of another pot-headed local, Black Flag guitarist, Greg Ginn, who had the wisdom and forethought to release their amazing, self-titled debut on his SST label. Later Black Flag would start to resemble Vitus a bit in sound and style. Ginn's decision to align himself with Saint Vitus may have been the cause of some derision in punker circles, but in retrospect it seems quite fitting. Hallow's Victim was the band's second lp and, for reasons unknown to me, the only Vitus album not to see a cd pressing. It also marks the last Saint Vitus album with original frontman Scott Reagers, before he was replaced by Scott "Wino" Weinrich of The Obssessed. Now I love all things Vitus, and can't say that I prefer one singer to the next. They both have their merits and shortcomings, but there is a pure, lucidity to Scott Reager's voice that symbolizes the band's exuberant and still somewhat hopeful beginnings. Wino's vocals added a sort of world-weary wisdom and class to Vitus that had been previously absent from their trip. Now, if you have never heard Saint Vitus (I have trouble understanding how that could be) then imagine Black Sabbath deconstructed into its most rudimentary elements, stripped of any unecessary fat, and slathered in mud. The claustrophobic production values of SST in-house producer Spot really bring out the greys and browns of Vitus' spartan sound. If you HAVE knowledge of Vitus then I imagine they're one of your favorite bands. Nobody can be indifferent to Saint Vitus, and it's hard not to get something out of their albums. Even if you hate their songs or their playing you cannot deny their brutal, almost unnerving honesty. Saint Vitus were four troubled men opening up their veins, their minds, their dingy L.A. apartments, and their souls for all to see and judge. They were the emotionally crippled everyman struggling to find his way in a world he is just too high to understand. Saint Vitus is the audial essence of pain, regret, and human defeat. The blues, motherfucker, the blues.

Here

15 comments:

Ambassador MAGMA said...

This is so beautiful and so true.

My knowledge of St. Vitus is very limited, but what I've heard (and seen a little online) they had it.

I've been on a HUGE doom kick recently... but this is like my world exploding

Thank you!

jb said...

Rightonrighton!!!!

Anonymous said...

this is the best description i´ve ever read of vitus´ music . let´s hope they will come up with some new material in the future . does anybody know what has become of scott reagers ?

Mike Zippo said...

Scott Reagers did return to SV for their last release Die Healing

Blazed said...

Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

well i meant after he did die healing with them , which was about thirteen years ago . never heard of him again afterwards . harry lime

SvartStoy said...

best description of vitus, its so true. i love st.vitus

Aesop said...

Vitus is religious to me. I have their logo forever etched into my flesh.

Anonymous said...

Those 1980's St. Vitus albums are so cool. They're put into the Doom category which makes sense, but way back when they were also considered Grunge. That was back in the late 80's when "Grunge" meant fuzzed out, noisy, and slow. Thanks for posting this!

truce said...

SCOTT REAGERS RULES!

Daniel said...

I remember driving to a 9 Shocks Terror show somewhere in New York from my hometown Cleveland. It was a good 5 hour drive,so I want to say it was Rochester,NY....Anyways I popped in St. Vitus' Heavier Than Though cassette...and the look of sheer disgust I got from my friends was amazing!!!! Anyhow they later saw the genious behind Vitus.

Nick said...

great post!
actually saw them last night!

weird thing about this post, the song "Hallow's Victims", is normally faster on every other version i've seen. clocking in at 2:44, its practically a hardcore punk song. may i ask, where did you get this version? my vinyl has the 2:44 version.

thanks!

Aesop said...

Ripped from the SST cassette version, I believe. Just saw them myself, colossal

Anonymous said...

Man, Vitus is without a doubt my drinking buddy when I don't have one. One of the parts of my being that I had as a teenager, and this album maps it out into a dirty chanting riffmonster that I had always craved throughout my life. Vitus IS my favorite band. Very powerful stuff.

TheCramp said...

I just heard about Armando Acosta passing away last week, first thing I did was put on Burial at Sea. The second was reread this review. Thanks man. They -were- the blues, motherfucker, the blues. Lucky us.