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Friday, November 16, 2012

Album Review: Vera Cruz – SkinAndTeethAndNails

Meaning “true cross” the French band Vera Cruz (yes, we’re not talking about the place, the film, the computer virus, the football club or the canyon here) are a group who wear their music influences as badges of honour. They have melded the classic punk of Black Flag and the timeless hardcore of Sick Of It All to the contemporary conglomerate metalcore of acts like Unearth or Evergreen Terrace so that what pours out of them falls somewhere between moshpit crush and raging chaos.

Their debut album, SkinAndTeethAndNails, besides providing the acronym SATAN whilst flaunting an anarchic graffiti-scrawled album cover message imploring you to “Fuck Cops”, goes off with one hell of a bang. The dynamic 1:32 build and crush of “Hopeless Knights” fires up the gang vocals to belt out the chorus for the enigmatic “The Last Of A Dying Breed”. The clean harmonies that mark out “The Family” pitch themselves as a sweetener for lead vocalist Flavian’s furious scrawling which continues to bite on through the speeding mania of “Black Walls” – a track that comes close to touching the crazy of label-mates The Chariot but with a hint of fellow countrymen The Prestige thrown in for good measure. The purposeful, yet ludicrously over-extended, circulating banjo at the track’s end leads neatly into the chord structure of the awesomely menacing “Open Your Eyes”.

From this point on, Vera Cruz rather lose a bit of steam. A large proportion of this latter material has a tendency to disappear from the foreground as the band begin to wander into familiar structures where neck-breaking speed, breakdowns and gang vocals rule. The exciting bone-crunching smack of those first few hits, the sinister psychological edge that was wielded so readily is filtered-out and the insistent metal guitar chugs begin to dominate (they even try to wedge an Iron Maiden gallop into the complex farce that is “The Last Parade”). Only the opportunity to “Walk Alone”, a track whose chorus is strongly reminiscent of Unearth’s “My Will Be Done”, and the dark atmospherics and dense bark of “Dunwich” allow them to come close to leaving another impression.

French metal bands seem to have a knack for imagination and, with SATAN, Vera Cruz have proved they are no different. What they appear to have a tendency to do is suppress it in an attempt to find a crossover metal edge and subsequent parity with their heroes. If they thought bigger, perhaps had a real crack at playing the wildcard that they are clearly holding, they could really blow some minds.



Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2012/11/vera-cruz-skinandteethandnails-season-of-mist/
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