Reviewed on Friday July 19

French/American group Monarch kicked things off with an underwhelming performance. Guitarist Kaïdine describes their style as “slow and loud as fuck,” which about sums up Monarch’s set. They seemed more interested in pleasing themselves with their extreme, dragged-out sludge/doom than engaging the audience.

The stage was better suited to a bizarre séance, with rotating goblin green and red spotlights and white candles. The entire performance felt like an uncomfortable date at a funeral, filled with unnecessary noise to break up the awkwardness. We remained in this limbo of reverberating drone for over forty minutes, which seemed like a lifetime. Cue the series of “get off” heckles thrown from the sidelines. I will forever be haunted by the phantasmal screams and howls of lead singer Bresson, like my first Freddy Krueger movie at the delicate age of 8.

The long-hailed kings of doom metal Saint Vitus thankfully upped the ante and graced the stage with all the vigour and intensity of bona fide rock veterans. ‘Wino’ Weinrich greeted us by asking, ‘It’s Friday right? Are you ready to have a hangover tomorrow!?” The crowd switched on immediately with an enthusiastic roar, fists punching the air and slow-motion moshing to the opening track ‘Living Backwards’.

Drummer Henry Vasquez made a ball-busting statement with his powerful chops and delinquent antics, knocking back Jack Daniels from the bottle and hurling his drumsticks at the crowd. There are no pretensions with these guys. They love to play and they don’t fuck around. And they don’t mind if you leave without an eyeball. Bassist Mark Adams hung elusively in the background, but was in no way forgotten as he delivered some deliciously deep and dark riffs. Meanwhile, Weinrich commanded the show with intensity, his signature rugged, husky vocals on the money as ever, while Dave Chandler fired up the audience by playing gnarly guitar solos with his teeth and behind his head, and even jumping down into the crowd to flesh it out.

Saint Vitus delivered a tremendous set, full of the fierce riffs, reverb and distortion that have cemented their status as one of the most important and influential bands in the American Doom genre. Their silky grey, Gandalf-like hairstyles and faded tattoos are the only signs of aging. They have still got it raw, despite their 35 years of legendary debauchery, band member shifts and breakups. I take my hat off to these guys, it was a killer show.


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