According to common knowledge, Glam Metal died in 1991, somewhere between the releases of Warrant’s Cherry Pie (CBS) and Poison’s Flesh and Blood (Capitol) to Pearl Jam’s Ten (Epic/Sony) and Nirvana’s Nevermind (Geffen). It appears this memo did not make it to Finland, as since their debut album five years ago Santa Cruz have been churning out Hard Tock straight from the pages of Skid Row and Guns n’ Roses, like their equally glammed up compatriots Reckless Love.Bad Blood Rising (M-Theory Audio) is their third album, and the continuation of their modern Glam Metal influenced rock.
On Bad Blood Rising they continue their mining of 80s American Rock, this time with a glossy modern sheen, and SIXX:A.M. like levels of fist-pumping melodrama. ‘Young Blood Rising’ is an example of this, biting riffs and a huge, shouty chorus all topped off with a solo of histrionic, Eddie Van Halen like proportions. This record contains some of their heaviest material, like the hook-heavy crunch of my favourite ‘River Phoenix’ or the radio-friendly, Shinedown tinged stomp of ‘Voice of a New Generation’. ‘Pure Fucking Adrenaline’ is of the same vein, a bolt of, ahem, adrenaline that smashes together 90s era Metallica with ‘Primal Scream’ by Motley Crue. Headbanging rockers with an innate, primal charm makes up the majority of Bad Blood Rising, but their likeability wanes as you go as they are all singing from the same staid, and slightly dog-eared, anthemic hymn sheet.
Sandwiched betwixt these amped-up numbers are the usual array of softer moments and heart-wringing ballads. Chief among them is ‘Breathe’, a lovelorn number led by piano, acoustic guitar, and ‘Winds of Change’ like whistling that, while undoubtedly catchy, is too sappy and insipid for my liking. ‘Get Me Out Of California’ is a bit more lively, a Mr Big flavoured power ballad with a campfire sing-along chorus with a ‘Hey Jude’ like crescendo to end things.
Bad Blood Rising is Santa Cruz’s best album yet, just as heavy and anthemic as their previous two records but with more variety and texture, light as well as dark. Be warned though, cheese and clichés are abundant.