Vera Cruz- Skinandteethandnails

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Season of Mist certainly has a lot of diversity, as the label has branched out to hit just about every heavy musical genre around. One of their latest signings is France’s Vera Cruz, a hardcore band that formed back in 2009 and put out their debut full length Skinandteethandnails at the end of 2012. Stylistically this group is all over the map, touching upon hardcore and metalcore hallmarks that are sure to remind listeners of a whole bunch of other bands. It’s a competent debut that’s filled with the type of in your face intensity fans of the genre like, but at the end of the day the material feels slightly unfocused and doesn’t always hit the mark.

The instrumentalists certainly can’t be faulted for trying to cram as much variation into this album as possible, as it feels as though they are constantly shifting in sound. On one track the riffs will have a very traditional hardcore feel and the material will have a bouncy, heavy hitting feel while the next the guitar tone has dropped significantly and the band has settled into a metalcore chug. There are also melodic hardcore and even some rock influences present, and while Vera Cruz is able to capitalize on some of these styles and offer some catchy and intense riffs the problem is that they jump around a little too often. As a result, it often feels as though they are skimming the surface of each one rather than truly realizing their full potential. Skinandteethandnails does have some standout moments, but more often than not just as it seems as though the instrumentals truly start to build to something the climax listeners expect doesn’t quite happen.

To go along with their instrumental variety, Vera Cruz has attempted to add a bunch of different styles to their vocal performance as well. The primary style is a higher pitched scream that has the type of angry intensity that is necessary for this genre, but there are also clean vocals that make an appearance on some of the tracks. Rather than using these on every single song in a predictable manner, the band only chooses to utilize them at specific moments and instead lets the harsh screams take the lead for much of the album. But when they did make an appearance the cleaner pitches had more of a rock vibe to them, as there’s something about the mellower delivery that is reminiscent of modern hard rock. I initially wasn’t that crazy about them but after extended listens I did warm up to the style, and wouldn’t be opposed to the band further expanding upon the cleaner pitches in the future.

I dig the mix of sounds that Vera Cruz is going for on their debut, but at the same time it seems like there is so much more potential that isn’t being met. Skinandteethandnails does have some standout riffs that will make it appeal to hardcore and metalcore fans, but the instrumentals bounce around stylistically a bit too frequently and as a result too many of the songs have intensity but don’t leave a truly lasting impression. With a little more progression and growth as songwriters this band could still become a name worth knowing though, so hopefully they’ll maintain the intensity showcased here and come back even better.

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