SANTA CRUZ – Santa Cruz (2015)
I am sure this is an easy question for everyone who had the basic education in the current Hard Rock / Metal scene; What do you get when you add a young Finnish band and ’80 Hard Rock? Indeed, the result reads success and this was validated when SANTA CRUZ’s debut hit the stores in the of April 2013.
Following up their excellent debut, Santa Cruz returns with a tonne of attitude and great tunes in their 2nd, self-titled effort to be released next week.
A couple years ago these Finns took the stages by force delivering their Hard Rock drawing inspiration from bands like Skid Row, Motley Crue and alike. Of course the question is where a young band chooses to go after having caused so much fuss with a debut release that has distinct influences and I think there are two paths to follow: perfect the same thing, or try to find a more original sound.
Santa Cruz has chosen the second road.
First of all, Santa Cruz deserve some credit for choosing to define their own musical ID because there is always danger on it. And I guess this is why they chose to use the band’s name as the album’s title to state in a way ‘this is how we sound’.
Considering the classic Hard Rock style of the debut then the changes should become pretty obvious with the album opener “Bonafide Heroes”, where you can hear a more ‘modern’ sonic approach. But don’t be fooled, the hooky melodies, the catchy choruses, the gang backing vocals are still here. Just listen “My Remedy”, even including cowbell, in the best ’80s Hair Metal tradition.
All songs are catchy as hell and it doesn’t take much time to start singing-along the “We Are The Ones To Fall” chorus, or just foot-tapping following the groove of “Velvet Rope” and its nasty lyrics.
The sound is massive and is focused on the getting the beat going so you can easily crank this up to get the blood flowing before getting out to the Rock club of your choice. At the same time the layered production pushes the guitar leads on the side for great effect.
There’s a broken anthem in “Wasted & Wounded” (a highlight), then “Let Them Burn” is a really heavy track propelled by a wall of riffs. Love the vibrato here.
On “6(66) Feet Under” you get more of this new Santa Cruz approach with a very modern yet addictive bridge / chorus, while on the other hand “Vagabonds (Sing With Me)” proves that the band haven’t forgotten their Sleaze influences although the heavier stuff during the faster break (following the ‘2-3-4’ counting) is awesome (great guitar work again) and I wouldn’t mind at all seeing them going more ‘heavy’ in future works.
For the end, Santa Cruz tries to craft a ‘different’ type of ballad and I think they succeed. It feels strange at first listen, but you’ll love it.
Santa Cruz have definitely pulled a rabbit out of the hat with this second release, something that, actually, is a necessity these days as the strength and quality of releases from Scandinavian bands especially in the Melodic Hard Rock genre does mean that to be noticed, a band has to land an album full of killer tracks.
Thankfully the boys have delivered this in spades and the scene is all the better for it. Santa Cruz deserve to play this to 80,000 screaming fans in stadiums around the world, and with Motley shutting up shop later this year, maybe there’s an opening to be filled?
If you’re still undecided, this album will appeal to fans of the harder, earlier works of Skid Row, Dr. Feelgood era Motley Crue, Jettblack, the first (and good) Crashdiet, Shotgun Messiah, and alike.
01. Bonafide Heroes
02. Velvet Rope
03. My Remedy
04. 6(66) Feet Under
05. Bye Bye Babylon
06. We Are The Ones To Fall
07. Wasted & Wounded
08. Let Them Burn
09. Vagabonds (Sing With Me)
10. Can You Feel The Rain
Archie – Vocals, Guitar
Johnny – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Middy – Bass, Backing Vocals
Taz – Drums, Backing Vocals