Gorphanage – Swank

Employing the well known Spinal Tap approach of going up to eleven, Lake County’s Gorphanage takes the template used on 2015’s self-released May Cause Birth Defects and push everything bar the silly song titles that little bit further with latest independent release Swank. The sludgy riffs are sludgier, the groove riffs are groovier, the insanely fast parts – although less frequent – are faster, there are more TV and movie excerpts than even Rob Zombie would feel comfortable with, and the production is another improvement on the debut, somehow managing to sound even filthier. Continue reading

Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz

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The opening of thirty seconds of the self-titled sophomore album (Spinefarm) from Finland’s Santa Cruz teases of this being (yet another) post-hardcore album before, like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible II, rips off the covering mask with a stomping cojones-to-the-max Sleaze Rock riff. We’re implored to get our “middle fingers up” and raise our “fucking hands in the air” before being swept up into the type of chorus that used to get millions of mulleted and permed peeps singing along.

Santa Cruz have unveiled their true selves.

But let’s get some disclaimers in early before we end up doing Santa Cruz a disservice and having you all rolling your eyes to the heavens and thinking this is some kind of retro throwback, na-na-na (as many a great chorus’ go), this is sleaze and glam but up-to-date. Yes, the roots of the rock swagger on display have been led from Park Avenue to Skid Row, but there are also similarities to The Used and Hardcore Superstar in there.

OK, there is no musical revolution going on here, but when you have songs as massive as ‘6(66) Feet Under’ or ‘My Remedy’ you don’t need to be setting a new agenda, you’ll win hearts and minds just by producing damn good, catchy, slick spirited rock songs; ‘Wasted & Wounded’ is, (woah-oh-oh, woah-oh-oh), the song Black Veil Brides have always been striving for.

Vocalist “Archie” has Seb Bach ‘tood in his voice and “Johnny” Parkkonen  is happy slamming riffs, chugs, and searing widdling leads (the solo to ‘Vagabonds’ is pure Marty Friedman – love it!), but between them the quartet stay on target for the duration of the ten tracks on display, high-energy rock music, excellently captured with enough heaviness, balls and vibe in the sound to help them stand out, and to indicate a live show would a great night out.

There’s a line between disposable, retro hero-worship rock (that frankly bores the fuck out of me and flatters to deceive) and being a goddamn good rock band, and Santa Cruz are man-walking, chests out, over there; the line is a dot to them. With the power of a Bullet For My Valentine, and the choruses of Ratt, Santa Cruz is an album that’ll get your boogie on, get your hand in the air, your air guitar out and get your mouth singing along.

And you can’t argue with that.

 

8.0/10

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STEVE TOVEY