Tuesday, May 5, 2015
SANTA CRUZ: ”s/t”
Label: Spinefarm 2015
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
The first Santa Cruz ”Screaming For Adrenaline” album was released two years ago and it was a decent piece of very vintage-sounding late eighties/early nineties hard rock. For this album the band has done some minor ”modernizing” tweaks to their sound but nothing too drastic. The album still sounds more like Skid Row than Slipknot. In fact, many of the songs remind me a lot of Skid Row’s ”Slave To The Grind” album when it comes to the overall vibe. And Sven Gali’s first album from 1992, possibly even more.
What has changed in two years? Well, the guys have written better songs and vocalist Archie sings better than ever. The over-the-top shrill screams have been ditched and that’s definitely good news. The fact that both guitarists Archie and Johnny are wicked axemen won’t go unnoticed on this album, there’s guitars left and right and in-between.
Let’s go through the songs quickly. ”Bonafine Heroes” opens the album with a full blast - the quiet intro turns into a 10-second thrash metal assault in a blink of an eye! The rest of the song is more ”familiar” Santa Cruz material, catchy chorus and lots of ”whoa whoa’s”. This band surely loves them…
”Velvet Rope” is one of the more Skid Row-sounding songs but not one of my favorites, the chorus just doesn’t work for me. The latest single ”My Remedy” is better, no ”whoa’s” here but a healthy dose of ”nanana’s” instead. ”1-2-3-4-5-6-6-6 feet under!” goes the intro to ”6(66) Feet Under”, another rather catchy song with just a little bit of ”Whoa’s” in it. ”Bye Bye Babylon” is a slower track but I doubt that it’ll be the band’s big ”Hit Ballad”. I could be wrong, but I just can’t get a grip of it.
Next up are the two singles, ”We Are The Ones To Fall” and ”Wasted & Wounded”. They are both among my favorite Santa Cruz tracks so far. I like the way how the guys have managed to mix contemporary pop influences to their sound without watering it down. The catchy ”Let Them Burn” could very well be another single sooner or later.
One of the tracks that I’m not particularly fond of is ”Vagabonds (Sing With Me”). It could be described as ”progressive sleaze rock” with its’ several rhythmic changes and tricky stop-go riffs. This is one for the guitar freaks. The closing number is the balladic ”Can You Feel The Rain” which somehow reminds me of a movie that was filmed in the ”real” Santa Cruz area - ”The Lost Boys”.