Crudelia – Threshold
9 songs/33 minutes
Blues and heavy music such as Metal, Punk and Hardcore have often had connections. Motorhead and Black Sabbath have Blues elements in their music even if the connection is less explicit than with Led Zeppelin or AC/DC. Punk and Hardcore pioneers like Richard Hell and the Voidoids, the MC5 and the Sex Pistols have Blues elements too; even if less obvious than the elements in The New York Dolls or The Stooges. Italian band Crudelia (possibly translated as “The Cruel”) fit right into this Heavy Blues crease. Their debut Threshold is a high powered, raw jolt of Heavy Metal Blue Power with a Punk middle finger defiantly raised.
What makes Threshold so heavy and brutal is the ragged bark of singer Smokin’ Tiglio and the adrenalized jangle of guitarist Eugenio Suvorov. This music is sung in English and, as with many vocalists not singing in their native tongue, the lyricism and phrasing are unique and fresh. Smokin’ also sings all from his throat with a morbid Heavy Metal guttural wail. Overdubbing multiple guitar parts, Suvorov balances clean electric and acoustic full chord strumming with hopped up distorted wailing and fuzzy face melting. The vocal and guitar elements are pinned to earth by funk informed bass slapping by Vincent Modenesi and clean straightforward hammering by drummer Frank Funk.
When the four elements of Crudelia are firing on all cylinders a stretchy high wire act takes place balancing raw power, morbid dystopian depression and hard edged pulsating rhythm. “Gold Tonight” is a prime example. The guitar figure is a hopped up take on a John Lee Hooker styled boogie. The drums pummel and you can hear the cymbals being pushed to the point of breaking. Smokin’ Tiglio sing/yells almost indecipherable lyrics like the demented later musings of Captain Beefheart. At 2:39, “Gold Tonight” is a head banging mosh pit crusher with a bit of swagger. This mosh-swagger aesthetic plays out in “The Blues” (decidedly not a Blues song), “Muddy Waters” (not seemingly about Muddy) and title track “Threshold.” “Threshold” has the hardest riffage on this record and the ability to crush the human soul. This track should have a warning label against neck trauma from head banging.
The flip side of all this raw power is dark brooding ballads about loss, death, murder and sadness. Stand out album closer “Miriam” is the best example of what Crudelia can do with acoustic guitars and unrelenting ache. Begging for forgiveness and acknowledgment, Tiglio croaks this plea of regret and murderous mania. With slippery wet electric guitar studding the acoustic rhythm and a gauzy, octave blasted lead solo, Suvorov creates his most expressive and creative soundscape.
Ballads and traditional structures are not Crudelia’s wheelhouse. Tiglio sounds a little too affected on some of the slower material, his throaty highly stylized delivery not able to convey enough emotion and character. Similarly when Suvorov’s Punk informed high speed strumming is slowed down, there isn’t room for the music to breath. The one Blues structured track “I pay for it” falls a little flat. The guitar playing is a little too obvious, the singing a little too garbled and the rhythm section sounds bored like their waiting to rock out again.
Threshold is Crudelia’s 2nd album. It is clear that this band is finding its sound and there are plenty of times on Threshold that they hit the mark. This is a talented band that make emotional music. They take the energy of Punk and Metal and mix it with Blues and Boogie in a very interesting way. Anyone who discovered the Blues through heavy influences such as Motorhead or Zep will find plenty to thrash to on Threshold and should keep an eye on these Italian wildmen.