Spirito Di Lupo have emerged a fully formed band full of charisma, personality, and ideas on their scuzzy yet poetic debut album Vedo La Tua Faccia Nei Giorni Di Pioggia.
Lega Serie A in Italy has this summer moved to ban the shirt number 88 due to its fascist connotations as they attempt to combat ongoing issues with fascism and racism in the sport. Trouble related to the political connections of the sport has remained rife and continues to highlight Italy’s difficult relationship with fascism, with Mussolini’s granddaughter still a member of European Parliament for the nationalist Forza Italia party (lead by former Prime Minister and AC Milan President Silvio Berlusconi until his death last month). Outside of the mainstream, though, Italy has continued to have a strong countercultural movement rooted in anarcho-punk ideologies. Leading the charge are Milan’s Spirito Di Lupo with their debut album Vedo La Tua Faccia Nei Giorni Di Pioggia (which translates to ‘I See Your Face On Rainy Days‘), following in this impressive lineage while adding their own flavour and perspective throughout.
Their pedigree is immediately apparent based on this being a co-release by US-based Iron Lung Records and UK-based La Vida Es Un Mus after they basically self-released their 4-song cassette on Sentiero Futuro Autoproduzioni. Eponymously named after the band Iron Lung, which set up the label, this year has already seen Wound Man and Brain Tourniquet release dingy powerviolence standouts, while La Vida Es Un Mus have just released Rat Cage’s new album and helped put out The Annihilated’s debut at the back end of last year, which is one of the most vital punk albums of recent years. Spirito Di Lupo, then, are not only representing a fierce national reputation but two labels at the pinnacle of the genre. This album lives up to any expectation I could put on it, though; it has a frenetic energy while being entirely composed in its scuzzy brilliance. Across these 12 tracks, the Milanese band deliver a hypnotising offering of throwback ’80s anarcho-punk stylings with a uniquely pointed vocal offering a personality.
In terms of pure sound, Vedo La Tua Faccia Nei Giorni Di Pioggia has been mixed and mastered by the legendary Will Killingsworth to sound like they’re playing live to tape from the gutter behind Milan’s famed opera house. While the bourgeoise are treated to La Traviata inside, Spirito Di Lupo are out the back, ranting about the system that put them there. The reverb-soaked guitar leads the way with a troglodyte simplicity as a ramshackle rhythm sections never misses a beat. While it sounds ultimately chaotic and barely held together by ruffled pieces of string, they’re entirely controlled even if they could fall apart. There are no pretences of being progressive or psychedelic, but within its gritty sound are layers of melody, beauty, and pure soul that bring so much life into their sound.
The dueling male and female vocalists trade lines throughout, but like the instrumentals, it sounds chaotic as they overlap, shouting some lines at the same time and others over the top of one another as if they just neglected to tell each other their cues. Yet, they sound perfectly in tune with one another. Sharing the male vocalists with another band, Kobra (whose 2020 album Confusione is also a great listen), there is a raspy and almost psychotic quality to his delivery as he aggressively rambles his way through the album. He’s challenged by a more high-pitched but equally pointed sidekick balancing out the tones and creating a tag team of anarcho-punk vocalists in a way that reminds me of some of the classic Crass offerings of the early ’80s.
While much of the album, from looking at the lyrics, does take aim at the system, it is an album that ‘serves to highlight the beauty of the world that dwell in the brooding fodder that usually haunts th[e]se genres‘. Lyrically, there is a poetic quality to the lyrics that I’m seeing more often in punk that really elevates the ideology and sound. Their statement of intent, “SDL”, includes the (translated) lines ‘no more detachment, no more a destiny, the impact of things, the impressions of a moment, the wind blows through the trees and the stars‘; just highlighting what they want to achieve with this album. It marks a real marriage of beauty with brute force throughout the album, a style they have described themselves as ‘inner peace punk‘.
“Canzone Della Foresta” has similar poetic qualities as they sing ‘listen to me master, I am the calm whistle of the forest‘, which alongside some of the more political moments, can also represent a more ecological ideology but just shows a band in tune with nature and themselves. The two interludes add to that part of the band, as they mix thoughtful acoustic guitars with the soft whooshing of the wind in field recordings. These provide a relief in the middle and at the end of the album that balances the hand over fist approach they take to much of their music, while also looking beneath the surface ideologically. While you can’t escape the forceful directness of the album, below that in your face nature are signs and moments of a much more fascinating set of people and musicians.
On Vedo La Tua Faccia Nei Giorni Di Pioggia, Spirito Di Lupo sound like a band entirely comfortable with who they are, what they want to be, and what they want to make. They don’t mind sounding like an ’80s anarcho-punk band while mixing in poetry in field recordings. They don’t mind sounding like a lost band from the legendary Virus years in their home city of Milan, because they’ve added freshness and their own charisma into every ounce of the album.