SANTA CRUZ, hailing from Helsinki, Finland, is back with their third studio album, Bad Blood Rising (out now, M-Theory Audio). For the uninitiated, they are a heavy, hard rock/sleaze metal band that will surely have you banging your head and fists. They have a bold, in your face sound that is sure to please. Already knocking you over is the power of their first track, “Young Blood Rising.” Lead singer Archie Cruz has a menacing heavy metal yell to accompany his rough, gritty, but slightly melodic vocal style. This song will definitely get you pumped up for the rest of the disc.
Continuing the heavy wall of sound is “River Phoenix.” Archie’s vocals on this track, however, take a slightly smoother tone than on the previous one. The background riffs by guitarist Johnny Cruz add an exciting element while bassist Middy Cruz keeps the rhythm pumping throughout. Okay, I am starting to sense a theme here with “Fire Running Through Our Veins,” sounding much like the previous two tracks with the heavy bombastic sound and everyone joining in on the chorus.
Finally something a little different comes through with “Drag Me Out of the Darkness.” Archie has a much smoother tone throughout this song and there is the added element of a piano. They slow it down further with “Breathe,” which is much more of a ballad. The whistling strikes me as odd, but other than that the rest of it is great. The next two numbers “Voice of the New Generation” and “Back From the Dead” bring the energy and heaviness back up to the level it was before.
One thing I have always admired about this band is the fact that they know how to use a double kick drum without getting overly excessive (looking at you metal/deathcore). Drummer Tazzy Cruz, is adept at using the double kick for emphasis as well as all out heavy thunderous pounding. One of my favorites is “Bad Habits Die Hard” because it encompasses many different elements that make for an interesting song. Although for the life of me I cannot figure out what they are chanting. Maybe that makes it even more intriguing? Certainly made me listen more to try to figure it out.
The final heavy high energy song is “Pure Fucking Adrenaline.” Then they bring it down to a more subdued tone in “Get Me Out of California.” It seems many bands from Scandinavia like California for some reason. The album ends with “River Phoenix (Part 2)” that seems to bring everything full circle. I also have to point out how much I love Johnny’s high gain guitar style in this one.
Honestly this album isn’t entirely what I had hoped for from them. I like it, but not as much as their first two. There is some great stuff here, but it seems they have taken a little too much modern influence. One of the things I had originally liked about this band was that they were along the heavier side of 80’s glam metal with added outside elements. Don’t get me wrong, I still love SANTA CRUZ and am looking forward to seeing them come back to the states next year! It’s just not their best to date if you ask me. By the way, whatever happened to “Skydiving Without a Parachute?”
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Young Blood Rising”, “River Phoenix”, “Drag Me Out of the Darkness”, “Bad Habits Die Hard”