As far as the current ‘scene’ of progressive rock goes, I don’t think anyone would bat an eye at the prospect of a new band harkening back to the ‘classic’ sound of the 1970′s. Taking a look at its 2011 release date alone, I might have been inclined to see this as a group of musicians paying a rough tribute to some of their favourites. Strangely enough, Spettri recorded their debut in 1972, but it has not seen the light of day until 2011, where it was remastered and released by Black Widow records. Although I have heard of some albums going through production hell, it is a shame that Spettri did not get a chance to burst onto a more global scene. Although this debut often feels more like a promising demo than a legitimate full-length, the self-titled “Spettri” gives a glance into the past that the vast majority of proggers will not have been able to hear until now.
I like to think of Spettri as an Italian equivalent to Deep Purple. Although they don’t go for the same heavy metal punch as the Purple, Spettri share the formula, that being one of organ- driven hard rock. Black Sabbath is another staunch comparison, at least as far as their trudging compositions go. Although I cannot say that Spettri would have changed the course of prog rock had they enjoyed a release closer to the time of the actual recording, there is a great deal of promise in their sound. ‘Promise’ and ‘potential’ are words that come to mind when listening to the album; although their fields are fertile, there are a few things holding them back from excellence.
First and foremost, the production will catch a listener’s ear as being quite raw, perhaps too raw even for Spettri’s hard rock leanings. While the demo-calibre studio quality certainly fits Spettri more than an elaborate overproduction, I can’t help but hear the music as if it were a work-in-progress. The musicianship is strong, but it feels as if Spettri had not get smoothed out the rough currents in their performance yet. Ugo Ponticello’s vocals hang beneath the rest of the sound, spouting metaphysical lyrics (in their native Italian). Ponticello’s vocals sound much more influenced by the UK bluesmen than most Italian progressive singers, although his delivery- like the rest of the performance- feels just a pitch under the weather.
The real standout here are the keyboards, and this is what I think Spettri would have become ‘known’ for, had they gone forth with their music. Stefano Melani’s Hammond organ has a rich, organic sound to it, and most of the band’s compositions are wrapped around this, their greatest strength. Fans of hard rock with a progressive edge should find “Spettri” enjoyable, although even the album’s greatest moments feel imperfect by nature. An obscure gem, but one scratched and scarred by a weak studio execution.
1. Introduzione (0:55)
2. Prima Parte: Stare Solo (5:32)
3. Seconda Parte: Medium (9:55)
4. Terza Parte: Essere (12:03)
5. Quarta Parte: Incubo (11:00)
* Ugo Ponticiello – vocals
* Rafaelle Ponticiello – electric and acoustic guitars
* Vincenzo Ponticiello – bass
* Stefano Melani – Hammond organ
* Giorgio Di Ruvo – drums