Listening to the subject of this review, Italian heavy rock trio Cripta Blue's self titled debut "Cripta Blue", is like stepping into a time machine for Desert Psychlist, we were immediately transported to a time when the width of material at the bottom of our trouser legs was almost equal to the length of material at our waist, a time when those iconic bands we still listen to today were strutting their stuff not in arena's but in sweaty clubs like The Marquee (London) and The Whiskey A Go Go (Hollywood), yes we are talking the 70's here. This did not come as a surprise especially given the information that Cripta Blue was a project "conceived to create personal and original music in the way of Budgie, Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Wicked Lady, May Blitz and more modern groups like Witchfinder General, Saint Vitus and Pentagram". Did they succeed in this endeavour? You bet your bottom dollar they did.
Just one look at the painting gracing "Cripta Blue" will tell you what you are likely to hear beneath its Blue Cheer inspired fonts and artwork, a stoned looking skull, bats and a psychedelic lawned cemetery, framed by mushroom sprouting trees, just screams the words "proto" and "metal" at you and what it screams is ultimately what you get. There is no pretence to be found here, no dressing up retro-sounding grooves with elements drawn from the extremities of the modern underground, this is a pure love letter to a bygone era and the music these guys grew up listening to. Cripta Blue, Andrea Giuliani (vocals/bass); Federico Bocchini (guitar) and Silvio Dalla Valle (drums), do not so much re-hash or try to re-create the vibe of early 70's proto-metal as cleverly attempt to re-imagine it and bring it up to speed for a fresh new audience. That prospective new audience will most likely have already heard 70's giants like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple but may not have delved any deeper and discovered the joys of bands likes Budgie, Stray, Blue Cheer, Dust and Sir Lord Baltimore, may never have heard a bass guitar played through a WAH pedal, a guitar solo funk it up on a heavy rock song or witness a drummer swing with a jazzy meter. If you see some of yourself in that last sentence then let Cripta Blue educate you in the ways of "proto-doom" and "proto-metal" with songs like "Magickal Ride", "Tombstone" (featuring Witchwood's Ricky Dal Pane on vocals), "Spectral Highway" and "Death Wheelers", original songs that rock raw hard and heavy and incorporate into their grooves essences from the whole history of heavy music from the late sixties right through to the present day.
If you've read about "proto-metal" but are not quite sure what it actually is then "Cripta Blue" is the perfect starting point to work your way backwards from, if however, like Desert Psychlist, you were born at the ass-end of the 50's and grew up listening to many of those bands previously mentioned then this is a delightfully delicious wallow in welcoming and still very much exhilarating waters.
Check it out ....
© 2021 Frazer Jones