SANTA CRUZ – Katharsis (2019)
After many troubles and rising from the ashes like a phoenix, Finnish Hard Rockers SANTA CRUZ are back delivering the new album, “Katharsis”, on Friday, October 18, 2019. Produced by studio vet Kane Churko (Ozzy Osbourne), “Katharsis” sees Santa Cruz drop their fourth overall studio LP and the follow-up to 2017’s killer album, Bad Blood Rising.
Much of a back story, “Katharsis” is certainly more than a new studio album for Santa Cruz. Formed in 2007, these guys became a fun and nostalgic throw-back to classic 1980’s Rock. In sound and image, Santa Cruz brought back everything there ever was to love about great, old school Hard Rock.
Listening in, Santa Cruz quickly began to emerge from the underground thanks to hits like “Wasted & Wounded” and “Nothing Compares To You.” Visually, if you watched a Santa Cruz music video your eyes were elated by long hair, make-up, ripped t-shirts, and a bad ass attitude, the likes of which made YouTube feel like MTV did in 1988.
With albums like 2013’s Screaming for Adrenaline and 2015’s Santa Cruz, the boys from Finland really built a fun persona, turning Cruz into a stage name going by Archie Cruz (vocals), Johnny Cruz (guitar), Middy Cruz (bass), and Taz Cruz (drums).
Come the release of album number three in 2017, the aforementioned Bad Blood Rising, Santa Cruz were really hitting their stride, an incredible album full of energy, big gang choruses, lots of emotion, and aura that made you never want to stop it from spinning.
Then in 2018, Santa Cruz hit a bump in the road. On the heels of earning a prime spot opening up for Fozzy on the North American leg of their Judas Rising Tour, the rock-and-roll lifestyle had taken a toll on Santa Cruz.
Sadly, Archie’s addiction to alcohol had caused enough issues that Johnny, Middy, and Taz decided it would be best to leave Santa Cruz. With every thing crashing down around him, Archie decided it was time to face his demons. In short, Archie cleaned up, continued creating, and hired new band members, Ero Cruz, Toxy Cruz, and Joe Perez to begin the next chapter of Santa Cruz.
All of this in mind, “Katharsis” ushers in the new era of Santa Cruz via “Changing Of Seasons.” Not just in life, but in sound, the album begins to show a slightly toned down Santa Cruz with less of an emphasis on big guitar solos and more of a laid back, slow yet deep sound.
Letting the music do the talking, “Bang Bang” add to the guitar riffs a bit of electronica with a very polished Rock climate. Next, “Into The War” lyrically tells of battling obstacles and ultimately getting your life back.
Moving along, the title “I Want You To Mean It” says it all, “True Believer” knows a phony when it sees one, and all “Tell Me Why” asks for is a little clarity. Good highs and lows, “Testify” is proclaiming something, whether it be love or pure emotion.
Thereafter, “Smoke Signals” knows what it is like to feel someone’s energy even when they are not present. Nearing full “Katharsis”, “It Was You” tells of bad decisions, “Salvation It” gifts a catchy “Sweet Child O’Mine” reminiscent hook, and then we close with a nice cover of Cindy Lauper’s “Time After Time.”
The internet explains ‘Catharsis’ as the release of strong or repressed emotion. Overall, it is evident this new album is indeed the “Katharsis” of Archie Cruz. Behind the incredibly polished arraignments and bouncy rhythms, Archie is clearly releasing everything he went through over the last year and a half.
For fans of Santa Cruz, some may find many of the over the top Rock riffs for which Santa Cruz have been known, have been switched to a more melodic, introspective sound.
However, there is something to be said, something beyond the music, about what is really taking center stage. Think about it. How many times have we seen Rock Stars tragically die from their addictions? Or for many, they fall into the black hole while continuing their attempt at making music and nothing gets better.
For Archie Cruz, the talented front man deserves much credit for surviving his addiction and living to tell about it. In the end, these are all things fans should consider when sitting down to listen to the new Santa Cruz album, “Katharsis”.
Well done Archie.
01 – Changing Of Seasons
02 – Bang Bang (My Worst Enemy)
03 – Into the War
04 – I Want You to Mean It
05 – True Believer
06 – Tell Me Why
07 – Testify
08 – Smoke Signals
09 – It Was You
10 – Salvation
11 – Time After Time
Archie Cruz – Vocals, Guitars
Pav Cruz – Guitars
Ero Cruz – Bass
Toxy Cruz – Drums