For anyone who’s ever heard Indianapolis doomers The Gates of Slumber, it’s not exactly a revelation that guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon is a fan of genre gods Saint Vitus, but when I heard their latest album, The Wretch (review here), it was easy to see it went well beyond that. Lots of people like bands. This was something more.
As such, I knew that in asking Simon to compile a list of his five favorite Vitus tunes, he’d come back with some interesting choices, and sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed. Here are his picks, complete with accompanying audio:
5. “The Troll”
“I’ve been down so long, I cannot see, anyway out of me…” What more needs to be said, really? The grizzled riffing and the tale of a depressive man locked in a feedback loop. The second verse explains why the loop exists; the third brings it home: “Bats and worms are my friends; they’ll stick with me till the end… down here I am my own man…” and a nihilistic Chandler tremolo solo. Wino‘s vocal performance on this song is one of his best. Basically a blues jam which Vitus did a lot, only it’s way fucked up. I identify with the lyrics so god damned much sometimes. It pains me.
4. “Shadow of a Skeleton”
Okay, so a lot of “fans” have a real problem with the C.O.D. record. Well, I have a problem with those fans. Attention posers: not one weak track on this record. In fact, in many ways this record is, in my eyes, a return to the feeling and production values of the early days, only with the addition of some guitar harmonies. And oh yeah, one of the best singers in the history of metal is wailing all over this record. This song has a bulldozer riff that just boggles the mind and makes me want to ruin my neck; Armando‘s drumming is fucking brutal; classic lyrics about a fucking reanimated skeleton coming after your ass…. what more do you want?!
3. “The End of the End”
I am totally obsessed with this riff. The best song Wino ever sang on in my opinion, and the best one that Vitus did with him! I love the pitch shifted vocals and the syncopated drumming. The environmentally aware/anti-nuclear power/war lyrics paint a potent and timeless picture that is just awesome. I love that it has no chorus as well, only the beak down that leads to the solo. Vitus had this weird habit of saving off their most potent songs for EPs… which was a dirty trick, I think! But I love it. Thirsty and Miserable is a must have just because of this song, and Walking Dead speaks for itself.
There is something about this open wah guitar tone that makes me want to throw things at the wall. The circular riff and Reager‘s demon wail. So goddamn good. And then the bass and drum break with Mark Adams taking it for a walk. The Iron Maiden influence is so clear here! It’s just a potent and short burst of energy. I do have to say that The first three releases by Saint Vitus had some real unique magic to them that just can not be equaled by anyone.
1. “The Psychopath”
Essentially, what we have here is a fairly standard blues formula, but goddamn if it isn’t totally taken in the most obscure and odd direction. Chandler is abusing his wah pedal the whole fucking time. Reager’s, owning it… again. How people can not like his voice is so strange to me, but whatever. A song about the M.K. Ultra experiments gone awry. But the real treat here is the main solo break. There are a few leads that really stick out for me, and this is my favorite. Four minutes into the song it starts, nice and melodic… and Chandler is not given credit for that! If Kurt Cobain is a genius then Dave Chandler needs a thousand times that credit. At 5:40, the airplane flanged shred turns into these sick and emotive bends that always give me the chills. It’s a shame that “metal” people in 1984 were totally too weak to have possibly gotten this band. But then things worked out pretty fucking well…. You can spend your life thinking about thing things that could have been. Fact is there were a thousand limp thrash bands and horrid butt “metal” bands out there, but only one Saint Vitus. And 31 years later nobody but nobody cares about Seduce or Viking or whatever… not even the dudes who were in the fucking bands. Saint Vitus ruled them then and rules them now.
Tags: Indiana, Indianapolis, Rise Above, Saint Vitus, The Gates of Slumber