First up tonight are Edinburgh doom-death metallers Atragon, fresh from supporting Grand Magus, it’s as if they’re on a quest to play the undercard to every heavy rock act that pay a visit to Scottish shores.
The vocals are almost deliberately crude and brutal but they’re fondness for daft shaped instruments and tasteless shredding undermines the fact that they’re capable musicians.
The main reason not to disappear to the bar is the guitarist’s impressive facial contortions as he delivers his solos; his grimaces makes Malmsteen look subtle.
Like tonight’s headliners, Mos Generator succeed in doing more with less, deploying their own solos with the precision of bunker-busters, which explode into life, deliver their thrills and then vanish just as quickly, letting the songcraft shine through.
They dedicate ‘The Silver Olympus’ to Clive Burr and their own drummer delivers some impressive cymbal work that even the recently deceased ex-Iron Maiden sticksman would consider impressive.
Their tough-as-nails hard-rock undoubtedly owes a debt to the Irons as well as tonight’s undisputed grandfathers Black Sabbath but there are also nods to Hendrix and Jimmy Page in singer-guitarist Tony Reed’s fluid soloing.
Saint Vitus arrive on stage with minimal fuss but for a hugely experienced band they start patchily.
The DNA of Sabbath imbues their genome with monstrous riffs that sound like sheets of metal being smashed together but several promising breakdowns succumb to effects-laden overkill as guitarist Dave Chandler (think Hulk Hogan after a twenty year meth binge) tortures his effects board.
Their place is assured as one of the progenitor’s of doom metal but there’s still something inherently ridiculous about seeing a bunch of Americans attempt to summon old-world mysticism so Saint Vitus are better when they mix riffs that sound like they could bulldoze through the wall into the next building with whiplash inducing breakdowns that demonstrate an equally important place in the development of thrash.
‘The Waste of Time’ from their 2012 come-back album gets the best crowd response as hordes of fists pump the air before Chandler delivers a blistering solo Tom Morello would be proud of.
Singer Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich rocks the kind of outfit that Ozzy hasn’t been able to fit into for years: a leather vest and the tightest jeans ever to be acceptable on a fifty year old, but he’s got the voice and magnetic presence to go with it, delivering thunderous roars and diving down into the front row.
Even as they enter their fourth decade Saint Vitus remain determined to stick it to “the man” – after all, this is a band whose merch stand proudly declares “will trade vinyl for weed” – encouraging enthusiastic fans to vomit on their bosses and attacking bands who don’t give it their all onstage.
The penultimate proto-thrash and the furious virtuosity of ultimate SV anthem ‘Born Too Late’ end the show in fine style with Chandler playing his guitar with his teeth, behind his head and finally against anything he can find, including an unfortunate aficionado’s face.
They may never be as legendary as the icons whose footsteps they trod but as fans queue for photos with the band it’s clear that to a small group of characters these guys are heroes.
Words: Max Sefton
Photos: Ingrid Mur