"The Return of the Kings" (M-Theory Audio; 2022)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I really like Santa Cruz and their "The Return of the Kings." Well, most of it.

The 11 tracks on this CD are filled with razor-sharp guitar, edgy vocals and lyrics and a powerful rhythm section that's just about as tight as it gets. The shiny production helps keep the sound clean as well. "Disarm," however, seems like it was designed to be a radio hit with its soft, melodic rock ballad sound and it's my least favorite track here. Give me the edgy, harder shit like well, like virtually everything else on the album (except, maybe, "1000 Cigarettes" and "Would You Believe It").

My favorite tracks are "Under the Gun" with its barbwire guitars and raw-throat vocals, the swirling rock'n'roll sound of "Standing My Ground" and the fiery "10 Shots."

A solid rocker throughout, with a trio of ballad-types thrown in for good measure (or bad measure, depending on your taste in such things), "The Return of the Kings" is definitely worth a listen. Or two. Maybe even more.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2023 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.