Santa Cruz – Katharsis Purge
Katharsis – Meaning to cleanse or purify or clarification. An absolutely perfect title for the new album from Santa Cruz on M-Theory Audio, which is available now.
A band with only one original member and a completely new sound compared to their previous albums. Many fans of Santa Cruz have expected to hear the same styles. Not this time! Listen to the album with an open mind, it’s really not a bad album. Just not the same as the band has previously done. This is known to happen when a band changes a single member (think Motley Crue 1994 album). Now imagine if the band changed ALL its members except one. You all get my meaning.
Stating Santa Cruz has been a bit turbulent in the last year or so would be a bit of an understatement. In March 2018 the band canceled their U.S. tour. They also announced the departure of Johnny, Middy, and Taz leaving the band this leaving only Archie as the sole original member.
A month later in April, Brody DeRozie was announced as the new guitarist for the band but abruptly left a month afterward. July brought fans a video posted on the Official Santa Cruz YouTube page featuring Pav Cruz now on guitar. August comes around bringing yet another announcement that Jordan Marshall was going to be the new drummer, but three months into their tour rehearsals, he left the band. This brings us to early 2019, and another band lineup announcement that drummer Toxy Cruz and bassist Ero Cruz were going to join and be the band’s new rhythm section thus rounding out the new lineup finally.
Could it be the stormy seas finally settling? Nope! Not even close. As we end out September 2019, the band issues a statement that Pav Cruz would not be appearing on the bands U.S. tour due to “immigration issues”. Shortly after that Pav puts out his own statement stating that he was permanently leaving the band, and that it was due to personal issues, and that the band’s statement about immigration issues was completely false. What was actually going on behind the scenes is still anyone’s guess unless you were there.
After the Purification
After all the drama and the rotating members, the band announced that a new album was ready to be released in October 2019 and it would feature lead vocalist Archie Cruz and the album producer Kane Churko on all instruments. The band, like most these days, start promotion of the album, by dropping YouTube videos of the new singles. The reaction was mixed, to say the least. Many fans were outraged about the change in sound. Others actually said they liked it. It was like watching the old wars between New Coke and Classic Coke. This listener had his own thoughts but waited until the whole album could be heard and put into context.
Katharsis came across my desk to be heard and reviewed, I instantly smiled. Remembering great songs like “Bonafide Heroes”, and “Young Blood Rising”. Then I actually hesitated, remembering all the negative feedback on the released singles. Did I really want to open this can of worms? Would it dampen my love of the previous albums? I decided to dive in headfirst and tried to keep an open mind. Kind of what I mentioned in my review of Spread Eagle (you can read that here). They didn’t change members but had a HUGE amount of time between albums resulting in the same kind of feedback. So, dive in I did.
Hearing the opening track of “Change of Seasons” I was actually quite happy with what I heard so far. With an electronic style opening and the slamming guitars and drums right before the vocals began, I found myself already banging my hands on the desk along with the beat. Well sung, well played and produced beautifully I had absolutely no objections with track one. We were off to a good start.
“Bang Bang (My Worst Enemy)” kicks in and I’m hearing sounds I still love. Pinch harmonics and pounding the drums like they deserve extreme punishment has always been good to listen to. With the odd f-bomb dropped in the song, is strong, powerful, and just as heavy as anything previously put forth by Santa Cruz.
The Cleanse Deepens
So, we got the opening of the album in. Out of the gate with a strong lead and keeping up with the bands known sound. “Into the War” is a bit more of a passive sounding song. Harmonic vocals that fit the instrumentation perfectly. No, not quite a ballad, but just a bit slower sounding pace and again with some electronic sounding backing sounds. It isn’t a techno sounding track by any means, just it has a phaser likeness throughout.
In keeping with the slower pace, we slow down even more. With a hypnotic drumbeat, and heartfelt lyrics, we get the ballad, “I Want You to Mean It”. Great guitar work resides within this song. Whether you like ballads or not, you have to appreciate the musicianship. With that being said, and I’m not by any means a musician, but I wouldn’t be shocked to find out this was a drum machine in this track, but hey if it works, it works.
Time After Time
Back to the hard riffs from the guitars and pounding backbeats of the percussion section you are treated to “True Believer”. I’ve actually liked this song from the start. It’s got a great hook in it, and some great lyrics that you will soon find yourself singing along with. “Testify” is one of the songs here that I would consider a throwaway filler track. It just doesn’t seem to fit the album to me, and quickly gets the skip button by me when it comes up.
Let’s skip to the end, and probably the most shocking tune on the album in my opinion. The ’80s Cindy Lauper classic, “Time After Time”. I’ve noticed lately that a lot of hard rock bands are doing covers of some of the most popular ’80s pop classics. Maybe that was the thinking here, I couldn’t begin to guess. I’ll readily admit to being a fan of many of these ’80s classics, and yes this is one that I used to know and listen to many times since Cindy did her version (hers is a cover too!) back in 1983. So, hearing Archie Cruz attempt this was interesting to me immediately. Many times, bands just kill a classic and ruin it for all listeners. However, this time it actually is quite well done. Archie’s voice nails it quite well. His vocal styles with an accompanying reverb to his singing along with the repetitive backbeat just work.
So, As I mentioned before, many fans have claimed that Santa Cruz has gone to the dark side. Many just cannot accept change. I personally say go for it. You had to try any band out once without having heard anything right? Well here is that chance again. So sit back, take a deep breath, and just enjoy it for what it is. A good Hard Rock album with a familiar-sounding singer.
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Trevor “Psychoone” McDougall
Email Me at: Trevor “Psychoone” McD
- Change Of Seasons
- Bang Bang (My Worst Enemy)
- Into The War
- I Want You to Mean It
- True Believer
- Tell Me Why
- Smoke Signals
- It Was You
- Time After Time