Fronted by long-time Arizona legend Bruce Connole (Billy Clone & The Same, Jetzons, Strand, Suicide Kings, Revenants), this is the first record to come from the Epiphany label, late record store owner (Zia Records) and Arizona music scene God - Brad Singer. Veering into the hard rock/metal arena, the record and a full length cassette came out just as the band was breaking up.
Kill Me(Spot Records)
"Darker Side of You"(45 single, Epiphany)
The debate over whether Bruce Connole's new direction--more Sabbath, less strumming--was worth it has become moot. Connole's band, the Cryptics, has broken up and Connole has left the Valley again for L.A. Just as the band was splintering, a full-length cassette and a brand-new single were seeing the light of day. The single is also the first disc to come from Epiphany, the new local label launched by Zia Record Exchange owner Brad Singer. Given time, Epiphany has the potential to become a major force in taking local music to a national level. There is no doubting Connole's talent. The guy can play guitar. Beyond that, he isn't a bad singer or songwriter, either. And he's got the necessary attitude and poise to lead a band.
But it's equally true that focus was never Bruce Connole's strong suit. Were the Cryptics a juiced-up alternative band in metallic clothing, or a metal band aware of how trendy and bankable alternative is these days?
If these posthumous vinyl products are any indication, the answer lies somewhere in between. The band had lots of muscle--power rather than finesse was its object. When the group played this stuff live, volume was the main concern. On these recordings, Connole's dominating guitar is heavy throughout, and the voice-of-doom vocals by Jason Huff and Connole are straight outta the Ozzie handbook of advanced scream-talking. This bludgeon-you-to-death theory is also applied to the band's lyrics. The song titles say it all--"Kill Me," "Blood on the Floor" and "I Don't Care."
Many fans of the Strand and other past Connole projects felt since the beginning that the Cryptics were a waste of Connole's talent--just something he had to get out of his system. He's been in a lot of different bands, playing a lot of different kinds of music over the years. However, most of his projects, like the Cryptics, went down when he lost interest. Many remain convinced that the Cryptics' proto-metal sound was a bizarre detour into what Connole describes in "Darker Side of You," the "A" side of the Epiphany single. On the other side of the coin, genuine metal fans and players felt he was merely aping that genre's moves and that, because of his name, the band was able to unfairly overshadow real dues-paying metal-hard rock groups.
Either way, Connole was at the center of yet another storm. And for inciting that much controversy in this music scene, he deserves respect. Musically, the Cryptics were a proficient hard rock-metal band at best. Knowing Connole's restless talents, though, who knows what the group would have become had he hung in longer? Judging from this tape and single, the Cryptics might have been a contender.
Download The Cryptics