Label: Spinefarm Records
Release Date: March 9th
Genre: Hard Rock
Archie – vocals, guitar
Johnny – guitar, backing vocals
Middy – bass, backing vocals
Taz – drums, backing vocals
6(66) Feet Under
Bye Bye Babylon
We Are The Ones To Fall
Wasted & Wounded
Let Them Burn
Vagabonds (Sing With Me)
Can You Feel The Rain
Following up their excellent debut on Spinefarm, 2013’s ‘Screaming For Adrenaline’, Santa Cruz return to the scene with a tonne of attitude, some great tunes, and the power and raw energy sadly lacking in a lot of modern bands that often put image before effort.
With recent hit singles ‘We Are The Ones To Fall’ and ‘Wasted & Wounded’ keeping them in the public eye whilst they put the finishing touches to the album, Santa Cruz have also found time to kep touring and spreading their wonderful brand of octane fuelled party anthems to the eager public.
‘Bonafide Heroes’ opens the album with some jangly guitar licks that would sit neatly on any U2 release over the last twenty years, making the listener wonder what they’ve just plugged in and sat down to listen to. “I believe, I believe I could fly..” chimes Archie / Bono but it all a ploy as within seconds, the sounds are replaced with a howl and crunching riff, pounding drums and the true sound of the album that sits firmly in Skid Row territory circa ‘Slave To The Grind’ era. Archie has definitely discovered his inner Sebastian Bach and takes every opportunity on the album to show just how versatile a vocalist he is both at the lower, softer end of his range and when he is raising the roof at the top end, whenever the songs demand it. ‘Velvet Rope’ continues in the same vein, this time adding the snarling lyrical content that Skid Row could also have delivered back in the day as well.
Anthemic, memorable, lingering, tightly delivered, all terms that could apply to each any every track on offer from the band on their latest album. Sure some of the clichéd elements exist to aid the delivery, the “la la la” , “na na na” vocals in some of the tracks like ‘My Remedy’ result in the listener humming the tune back several hours later but it’s no bad thing. The songs lodge themselves in the brain and steadfastly refuse to budge and with songs of this calibre, no one should complain.
Johnny’s guitar work continues to impress with some excellent riffs and solos. For those people who saw the band perform at their much talked about headline show at The Barfly, London, last November and recent US performances including New York’s Webster Hall in December, they’ll also appreciate the additional playing Archie brings to the mix as well. The two musicians trade licks and solos and the duel guitar approach adds another layer to the delivery not always seen in with their peers.
Special mention goes to single ‘We Are The Ones To Fall’. Building very slowly with its soft, haunting “woah woah We Are The Ones To Fall” vocal, the song then bursts into life with Archie again raising the afore mentioned roof on the chorus. The power and energy delivered on the track by the four young musicians is something else and feels more like a track that would be found on a band four or five albums into a successful career.
The remaining tracks continue in the same vein, ‘Wasted and Wounded’ allowing Middy and Taz to show off the power in their thumping, tribal like rhythms. Santa Cruz have definitely pulled a rabbit out of the hat with this release, something that, actually, is a necessity these days as the strength and quality of releases from Scandinavian bands especially in the 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.
If you’re still undecided, this album will appeal to fans of the harder, earlier works of Skid Row and Dr Feelgood era Motley Crue. They deserve to play this to 80,000 screaming fans in stadiums around the world and with Crue shutting up shop later this year, maybe there’s an opening to be filled?
Written by Adrian Hextall
Ratings 9/10 ADRIAN
UK dates as follows, supporting Amaranthe:
March 17th O2 Academy Islington, London
March 18th Warehouse 23, Wakefield
March 19th ABC2, Glasgow
March 20th Academy 3/Club Academy, Manchester
March 21st Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
March 22nd The Marble Factory, Bristol