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Saint Vitus: C.O.D./Die Healing

Doom legends dust down their Wino-free releases

Although arguably the greatest and most important American doom metal band of the 80s, Saint Vitus largely bemused contemporary audiences craving hardcore, thrash or glam, not drugged-up sleazeballs dragging out fuzzy downer Sabbath riffs.

As the 90s dawned the band lost iconic frontman Wino to The Obsessed, replacing him for 1992’s C.O.D. with Christian Linderson from Count Raven, who throws in enough impersonations of Wino and Scott Reagers to ensure a decent fit, but his slurry Swedish vocals are fairly undistinguished.

There are some worthy, solid fist-raisers here (basically the first three songs) and three intriguing bonus tracks, but the uptempo numbers are rubbish; in fact, an argument over (I Am) The Screaming Banshee precipitated Wino’s departure. Dave Chandler is repeating himself too much riff-wise, too, and the unusually bright, trebly sound is all wrong. [6]

Excitingly, for 1995’s Die Healing – which was planned as their last album due to widespread indifference – the band’s first singer Scott Reagers was back, and his impassioned, expressive, unorthodox voice is on top form here; as is the whole band, Vitus regaining their creepy, desperate menace and mastery of craft with resounding doom classics like Dark World, Let The End Begin, Sloth and Return Of The Zombie.

The murky, cavernous sound, Chandler’s primal hypnotic riffs and the emphatic, resolute drumming of Armando Acosta help make Die Healing a Saint Vitus lost classic. It’s just a crying shame that it was their last album until 2012’s Lillie: F-65… and that Scott Reagers subsequently dropped straight back off the radar. [9]

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.