35 years. 35 sodding years it’s taken Saint Vitus to get their arses to Glasgow, and now they’ve finally gone and done it, they’re more than eager to get shit rolling which is probably why Edinburgh’s Atragon are kicking off just 15 minutes after doors open, meaning the place is half empty and most are still walking in when their leaden celebration of the slow is in full swing. Anyhoo, the latecomers are missing a treat because this is doom done right. From ultra-slow sludgefeasts that surf on a wave of distortion and downers to mid-paced stoner showboating that might as well be grindcore to this lot, they overcome the flaws of the Cathouse’s notorious sound system with flair and enthusiasm. Some exemplary guitarwork that adds plenty of colour to their prison-wall-grey world, and a gurning, eager vocalist with plenty of soul in his growl make them worth arriving early for. A front-row pair are later heard to remark that they’re “one of the few major legit Scottish bands that don’t sing about pirates.” It’s a beautiful moment.
The arrival of Mos Generator is a more-than-welcome one. Even those who’ve never heard a note can’t fail to have heard the praise that follows the Washington trio and their no-frills, beer, weed and meth-charged metal (think Black Sabbath by way of the MC5) and they more than do the hype justice. This ain’t groundbreaking stuff but it doesn’t need to be: the bombastic delivery, most notably from Animal-like sticksman Shawn Johnson’s haywire wails and flails, the flair and good-time energy of Tony Reed and that groove, the kind that defies you to keep your head still, to just fucking try it, and leaves you knowing within a minute that it can’t be done. Dedicating a solid Silver Olympia to the recently departed Clive Burr, this is as honest as it gets and it’s another happy memory on the road to what comes next.
That’s right, it’s the mighty Vitus and thankfully there’s not much of a wait before they step out, Wino handing the crowd a couple of beers (seriously, Nicest. Guy. Ever) before grabbing the mic for Blessed Night, Dave Chandler ramping up the distortion and bouncing straight in with countless years’ practice at kicking ass. He scowls and glares at camera and fan alike, his playing often a wash of white noise and over-excited theatricality, and it’s hard to deny that he looks like the happiest dude who ever devoted his life to rock & roll. In contrast, Wino looks, and sounds, mean. He burns with a grizzled charm and, old or new, he delivers every line with equal menace. Well, up to a point. As the tonight progresses, mostly around the time of the fist-pumping charge of Look Behind You, he loosens up and joins Chandler in just being chuffed to have so many people appreciative of their sheer brilliance.
And appreciative they are, but who in their right mind wouldn’t be? It’s been an epic wait, and everything tonight suggests it was worth it. Let Them Fall and The Bleeding Ground silence the usual doubts of comeback albums thanks to Wino’s innate menace and the solid, dangerous-sounding basslines of the stoic Mark Adams that hit like good acid, while Chandler’s (literal) chewing and mangling of the fretboard invokes a skin-flaying whirl of metallised sound in psychotic response. It wouldn’t be a proper SV show without their anthem, and that of stoners and doom-addled freaks worldwide, though and Born Too Late serves as a fitting swan song to the night. It’s a world apart from its recorded alter-ego, infinitely slower, denser and that little bit more stirring but there’s a sense of preaching to the converted as everyone already got the message years ago: if it ain’t slow, it ain’t worth it.
Scribed by: Dave Bowes
Photos by: Alex Woodward (www.crimsonglow.co.uk)