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Saint Vitus

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One of the leading American doom metal acts of the '80s (along with Trouble and the Obsessed), Saint Vitus was cursed with public indifference throughout their decade-plus career, which both started and ended in frustrating obscurity. 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 medieval boy saint whose beheading and violent death-throes gave rise to the gruesome expression ("Saint Vitus Dance," 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 Records, and was followed in quick succession by the Walking Dead EP and Hallow's Victim album the very next year. Progress was slow, but the band continued to improve despite the departure of vocalist Reagars, 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 Records 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 reform 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 Lindersson appeared on 1992's half-heartedly recorded C.O.D., and though the original lineup would briefly reconvene for a last hurrah with 1995's Die Healing, no more has been heard of Saint Vitus since. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia