Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SANTA CRUZ: "Screaming For Adrenaline"

Rating: RRR
Label: Spinefarm 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

I was quite impressed by this Finnish band, when they supported Cinderella a couple of years ago. They had a great stage presence yet I thought their songs weren't quite on the same level. Now that their first album is out, I'm again impressed by their delivery yet I'm not completely sure about their songs. They've got a few really good ones, but then again they've got a couple that almost make me cringe.

Santa Cruz play unashamedly retro hard rock and "Screaming For Adrenaline" could just as well be an unreleased, undiscovered piece of "hair metal history" from 1991. You know, the kind of album that certain labels are releasing one after another - "They were local heroes, famous for their live shows and drew thousands of fans to their gigs. Then Grunge happened... but now we have discovered their unreleased album and bring it to you in its' full glory"... but nope, these guys weren't even born in 1991, so it's kind of strange that they have totally managed to duplicate the sound of the era. And it's especially the sound of 1991 and thereabouts. Guns'n Roses had already left their mark, and most "hair" bands had toned down their image and tried to toughen their sound. Santa Cruz would have been right at home in that time and space both musically and visually. I could imagine them battling against bands like Bang Tango, Southgang, Kik Tracee, Roxy Blue and other B-list groups who were active around that time... and probably winning most of them.

The influence of GNR is pretty obvious on many of the songs, especially when it comes to vocalist/guitarist Archie's falsetto screeching. It's very Axl-like, but frankly I've never been a fan of his and to me it's more like fingers on a chalkboard. Thankfully Archie doesn't use it in every song. You might also hear echoes of Poison, Dokken, Skid Row and even that aforementioned Bang Tango in some of the songs.

My favourite tracks include High On You" which has the biggest melodic chorus of the album, "Sweet Sensation", the party anthem "Let's Get The Party Started" and "Aiming High". The latter does feature Archie shierking on it like a cat in heat but the glam-tastic monster riff saves the song. More like these for the next album please! Forget about songs like "Nothing Compares To You" and "Lovin' You (Is Just For Playing)" which sound like Poison's left-overs...

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