Saint Vitus performing in Memphis, 2012. From left to right: Dave Chandler, Henry Vasquez, Mark Adams, Scott Weinrich
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
Saint Vitus is an American heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles in 1979. They are one of the first doom metal bands, alongside Pentagram, Witchfinder General, Trouble and Pagan Altar. Having released eight studio albums to date, Saint Vitus never achieved a popular breakthrough, but have exerted great influence on the development of doom metal, sludge metal, and stoner rock.
The original line-up consisted of Dave Chandler (guitar), Mark Adams (bass), Armando Acosta (drums) and Scott Reagers (vocals). They recorded their first two albums before Scott Weinrich replaced Reagers in 1986. The line-up of Chandler, Adams, Acosta and Weinrich is the longest-lasting. The third album Born Too Late (1986) is generally acknowledged as their best release.
After breaking up in 1996 and briefly reforming in 2003, Saint Vitus reunited again in 2008 with the band's "classic" line-up, featuring Weinrich, Chandler, Adams and Acosta, and embarked on a successful tour. However, after 30 years in the band, Acosta left Saint Vitus in 2009 due to worsening health, and was replaced by Henry Vasquez.
The band was formed in 1979 under the name Tyrant, with Scott Reagers (vocals), Dave Chandler (guitar), Mark Adams (bass), and Armando Acosta (drums). They changed their name to Saint Vitus in 1980, after the Black Sabbath song "St. Vitus Dance". Their main influences were Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Blue Cheer, Blue yster Cult and Alice Cooper.
Because of their slow and dark style in contrast to the metal trend of the time which focused mostly on speed and aggression, Saint Vitus never found appreciation in the Los Angeles metal community and were involved in the punk rock scene by Black Flag, with whom they toured during the early 1980s. Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn would also sign Saint Vitus to his label, SST Records, which eventually released 4 LPs and 2 EPs by the band. Chandler affirmed: "the heavy metal fans at the time hated us, and so did the punk rockers, but the punk rockers grew to appreciate us".
Under this line-up, Saint Vitus recorded 2 albums (Saint Vitus & Hallow's Victim) and an EP (The Walking Dead). Reagers left the band in early 1986, and was replaced by The Obsessed frontman Scott "Wino" Weinrich (at this time, The Obsessed had only released one 7"). Reagers' final performances featured songs from then-upcoming album Born Too Late, such as "The War Starter" and "Hell Ain't a Game", as many of these were written while he was still in the band.
Wino recorded three studio albums (Born Too Late, Mournful Cries & V), a live album (Live), and an EP (Thirsty and Miserable, featuring the Black Flag cover of the same name) with Vitus. By 1989, Saint Vitus had been dropped from SST and signed to Hellhound Records, who released the band's next three albums. Weinrich left Saint Vitus in 1991 to reform The Obsessed after Saint Vitus' label, Hellhound Records, released an album of older Obsessed recordings.
Following Weinrich's departure, the band found former Count Raven singer Christian "Chritus" Linderson as a replacement after a short search. He would record only one album, C.O.D., and tour Europe and America with the band until 1993 before being replaced by original vocalist Scott Reagers for what would for a long time be their final album, Die Healing, regarded by the band to be their finest work. Saint Vitus played dates in America and Europe following the album's release. After the completion of the tour, Saint Vitus decided to disband in 1996.
Chandler went on to form the punk/doom band Debris Inc., with Ron Holzner of Trouble in the early 2000s. They released their self-titled album via Rise Above Records in 2005. Acosta stayed busy with a band called Dirty Red, Adams no longer played music, and Reagers also left the music scene. After The Obsessed broke up in the mid-90's, Wino moved back to Maryland and formed Shine/Spirit Caravan and once again toured Europe and the US until the band's break up in the early 2000s. His next band, The Hidden Hand, followed a similar path before breaking up in the mid-2000s. Wino also briefly joined Place of Skulls, featuring former Pentagram/Death Row guitarist Victor Griffin, for the album 'With Vision' released in 2003.
In 2008, it was announced that Saint Vitus were reuniting again for a tour in 2009. The band headlined Friday's April 24 date at the 2009 Roadburn Festival. at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Netherlands and then went on to play three gigs in Germany. The lineup for this reunion was the same as the 2003 reunion. Drummer Armando Acosta, who had been with the band since its inception over thirty years ago, left the band before the European tour of 2009 had been completed.
Dave Chandler has cited health concerns as the reason for Armando's replacement. Acosta died on November 25, 2010, aged 58. He was then replaced by Henry Vasquez of the band Blood of the Sun. Wino also released one album to date as a member of the Doom Supergroup "Shrinebuilder" in 2009.
In February 2010, Chandler stated that there was talk of Saint Vitus recording new material, but there were no concrete plans at the time. However, according to frontman Weinrich, "we're writing some stuff right now. Everybody's pretty busy. I know I've been busy. The Wino band is pretty much on hiatus right now. So it looks like we'll be doing some recording in the near future. The bottom line is we would like to do a new record. There's talk about it. We've already been floating around a couple ideas. So yeah, somewhere down the line there will be a new Vitus record in the cards." In March 2010, Wino revealed to the German edition of Metal Hammer magazine that Saint Vitus were without a record label, and had only written one new song so far, but that a full-length studio effort from the group would likely surface within the next 12 months, making a 2011 release date likely. However, plans eventually fell through, but had planned to regroup to make the album sometime in the summer of 2011, after the band finished the 2011 Metalliance Tour with Helmet and Crowbar. On the Metalliance Tour, Saint Vitus debuted a new song called "Blessed Night". On November 8, 2010, it was announced that they were signed to Season of Mist and would release their new album, entitled Lillie: F-65, on April 27, 2012. It marked Saint Vitus' first studio album since 1995's Die Healing, its first release with vocalist Weinrich since 1990's V and first release without Armando Acosta on drums.
Late 2009 through 2010 also saw the majority of Saint Vitus' back catalog come back into print. SST Records reissued vinyl versions of all the group's records except for the first album, which was reissued on CD. The label also released "Hallow's Victim" and "The Walking Dead" on CD, having never previously been available in the format. Buried By Time and Dust Records also did a limited vinyl issue of "Die Healing" (the first time that album had been available on vinyl) with a CD reissue expected to follow.
In an April 2012 interview with Drop-D, guitarist Dave Chandler was asked if Saint Vitus was going to make another album after Lillie: F-65. His response was, "Right now we're just taking it step by step to see how people respond to [the new album]. There would be no reason not to because when you're constantly playing you get a lot of ideas. We're not going to say yes or no now. There are a lot of people talking about the record so hopefully it will live up to everybody's expectations."
In 2015, Saint Vitus performed a single U.S. date in Austin, Texas and a European tour with original singer Scott Reagers, his first full shows with the band in 20 years. Due to Wino's commitments with The Obsessed's reunion, Reagers once again filled in for him on Saint Vitus' fall 2016 U.S. tour with The Skull and Witch Mountain. Saint Vitus released their live album Live Vol. 2 on September 23, 2016.
In January 2018, Saint Vitus announced that they would release a new album in April or May 2018.