If any of you have ever read my previous posts, you will know I am a child of the 80s. Because of this, anything teased up with hairspray and covered in spandex I already know about or am willing to check out. Therefore, when I heard about the Finnish band Santa Cruz, I was definitely interested. Santa Cruz is a Finnish glam metal band formed in 2007 in Helsinki by vocalist Archie Kuosmanen and guitarist Johnny Parkkonen. Their first studio album, “Screaming for Adrenaline,” was released in April 2013. It jumped out at you with a ton of Guns ‘N Roses flavor, but with a modern twist. I was anxious to hear if their new self-titled album, released on March 10, 2015 through Spinefarm Records, was more of the same.
Opening track ‘Bonafide Heroes’ hits me WAY harder than I expect. The double kick and guitar barrage is uncharacteristic for the genre, but these guys do it so smoothly it fits. The song, like most of theirs, sticks in your head and sounds huge with an “arena ready” feel like Skid Row in their prime. ‘Velvet Rope’ hits almost as hard, pouncing on you with a bouncy, heavy riff and another sing-along chorus reminiscent of Firehouse. ‘My Remedy’ maintains the punch with another heavy opening before sucking you in with its heavy hooks and gang vocals. ‘6(66) Feet Under’ might have one of the cheesiest lyrics I have heard since ‘Cherry Pie’, but the way Santa Cruz delivers it, makes you believe it. ‘Bye Bye Babylon’ drops the energy down a bit, but ‘We Are the Ones to Fall’ brings it right back up. This leads into the radio ready ‘Wasted & Wounded.’ Sadly, due to the proliferation of f-bombs throughout the lyrics, this and ballad ‘Can You Feel the Rain,’ are probably the only tracks that have a chance at any kind of airplay. Speaking of closing ballads, besides the unnecessary excessive cursing, the order of the songs on the album is one of the few issues I have with the record. The front half of the album is loaded with arguably the best songs on the album, only to have the energy on the back half fluctuate. Then, to have the one ballad on the record close it out, makes no sense at all.
Everything about Santa Cruz screams retro, but it does not feel that way. When I think of all the things I liked about metal in the 80s; the big choruses, catchy songs, screaming guitar solos, they have all that in spades. Santa Cruz takes the fun of listening to those cassettes back then and modernizes it. For someone who discovers them now, they do not feel like they are stuck in my backseat during a long road trip listening to my high school mix tapes. Santa Cruz is more fresh and up to date. Their self-titled release is what 80s metal guys like me have been waiting for.