Review SANTA CRUZ ‘The Return of the Kings’

Santa Cruz is a band with an interesting history. The starting point of Santa Cruz is not in California, as one might think. The home of the band is much further north-east from the US west coast. Santa Cruz come from Finland and started in 2007.

Arttu Kuosmanen and Joonas Parkkonen founded the band, which released its debut album in 2013. More records followed before the band hit rough waters in 2018. All of a sudden, Kuosmanen found himself alone and the question arose as to what to do next with Santa Cruz.

The singer and guitarist decided to keep the band alive and after more turbulent times, a complete line-up is back this year; and there is also a new album.

Three years after their most recent album, Santa Cruz returns and chose a title for the new record that packs quite a punch. ‘The Return of the Kings’, as the new album is called, includes eleven song. Whether the band refers to themselves by ‘kings’ is not submitted and in the end it doesn’t matter, because it’s the music that counts.

‘The Return of the Kings’ kicks off with ‘Here Comes the Revolution’. Now, musically, the sound of Santa Cruz is not really a revolution. Often one feels reminded of the earlier Skid Row, which is certainly not a bad reference. Santa Cruz manage to give their new album a good portion of hardness. In combination with well-made hooks, an explosive rock’n’roll mixture develops that also features metal elements. Santa Cruz rely on solid riffs, which is evident in songs like ‘Take Me to America’ and the powerful ‘Shots’.

With ‘1000 Cigarettes’ Kuosmanen and bandmates have the obligatory tearjerker on the album, a song which is OK and at the same time not one of the highlights. The following ‘Would You Belive It’ also aims at the same target group and is even softer, before ‘Stay’ is a somewhat conciliatory closing.

‘The Return of the Kings’ is a solid but not majestic rock/metal album. Santa Cruz start strong and powerful, qualities that are lost bit by bit in the lower part of the setlist. The question is allowed if an EP with the first songs would not have been the better alternative. That’s why the album leaves you with a mixed feeling and you have the impression that Santa Cruz could have made more out of this release.

Rating: 7 out of 10.


  1. Here Comes the Revolution
  2. Take Me to America
  3. Under the Gun
  4. Disarm
  5. Standing My Ground
  6. Shots
  7. Another Round
  8. Gunshot
  9. 1000 Cigarettes
  10. Would You Believe It
  11. Stay

Label: M-Theory Audio

Genre: Hard Rock

Release Date EU: August 29th, 2022




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