Check the translation (original is in Italian):
My usual followers, of both this site and our twin ‘Heavy Metal Heaven, know that I’m not a huge fan of the alternative scene, save a few exceptions: a style that doesn’t do much for me personally, preferring to concentrate on my preferred taste of ‘Metal’. However, every now and again something different pops up that catches my eye: in this case I’m talking about NERACRUZ, the Anglo/Italian band with a long career behind them but have only just released their first self-titled album. The band present themselves as a mix of Goth, Rock and New wave with heavy influences from such bands as Depeche Mode and the Cure, whilst throwing into the mix a number of other genres such as Dance, Metal, alternative and post-punk. A powerful highlight of this album is without a doubt the keyboards delivered by Marco “Marco Cruz” Mazzesi, with an ever present persuasive sound cosistant through the whole album and Raffaele “Raff Cruz” Calabrese’s low and warn vocal tones. These highlights give an interesting feel to the album, also down to the instantly memorable melodies, choice of language that changes from both English to Italian (often during the same song), which although an extremely difficult task Neracruz manage to pull it off flawlessly. The album offers a mix that shows style and high commercial probability, without renouncing on a solid Rock base, great songwriting while never becoming obvious: the result being that NERACRUZ, as we shall see in a moment, are a real jewel in this particular genre.
With a brief electronic intro we launch into Pure Love, a medium paced song that splits between Electronic, Rock with a vocal Gothic feel generating an effect both powerfull (the chorus) and rthmic with Steve “Steve Cruz” Pons’s bass shouting out during the verse. A brief ‘bridge’ then back into the chorus that shouts out ‘power’ with a melody that once in your head will not leave again. A simple song structure with a classic feel which remains throughout the album that is not a problem. The song represents three and a half minutes that will never bore you, a theme that opens this album in perfect style.
Next up is Boardeline, a calmer and more flowing piece, edging towards a darker and melancholic sound; especially in the verse which is very electronic orientated that works well with the Italian sung chorus, a chorus that layers power upon what is a calm and relaxing and almost sorrowful undertone. It’s quite a straight forward song that, with the occasional and interesting hidden variation, results in an excellent, inviting high quality track.
The ‘direct’ and ‘hard rock’ opening riff of the The Dream, the ever present electronic element and Raff’s vocals contribute to the creation of a song full of atmosphere whilst also delicate a full of emotion. The song’s structure consists of well contained verses that via a tense middle bridge launches into an extremely catchy and explosive chorus thanks to the almost dance rhythmic section by guest drummer Andrea Dal Zio and the electronic contribution of Marco Cruz, giving this track a touch of exceptional class. This formula is ever more evident towards the end of the song, very appropriate for a song of this high level.
The lighter and melodic feel of Nova is mainly thanks to an expansive rhythm that blends well with Raff’s vocals and an almost synthetic feel in certain parts. The Choruses are explosive and powerful thanks to the Backing vocals and Kevin “Kev Cruz” Fisher’s alternative Rock Orientated Guitar. This mix is possibly the least affective in that it doesn’t reach its full potential. With this I find the song is slightly below the standard of the other tracks on the same album. No panic though, we still have a great offering that is a pleasure to listen to.
Moonwatch opens with an Electronic intro that bursts into ‘hard rock’ that is then is quickly replaced by a synth owned and dominated verse. The song then progresses in its intensity until finally bursting into the heart of the chorus; a chorus that although simple has an immediate impact on the listener. This impact is down once again to Raff’s vocal line that whilst not complicated is very intense indeed. This intensity is also complimented by the use of the English language in the Chorus (the verses are in Italian). It’s worth pointing out how the bridge develops into an almost blues feel enriching the song even further, resulting in probably the best track on the album.
Kill me not goes straight to the point with its Dark and Gothic feel driven by Marco Cruz during the verses. Marco also drives the chorus which are both dense and powerful. Here the formula works a little less than other songs with a songwriting falling towards a more anonymous feel. This track has the feel more of an album filler in what is otherwise an album without faults.
Back again to ‘High Level’ with Fever. An intro, darker than previous tracks, giving instant thoughts to a song bordering on the pure goth whereas the surprise is that it launches into a complicated and rhythmic track. Here we find an interesting unity of a well contained and romantic verses to a full blown explosion in the chorus with its almost pop style harmonies making this track unique. The middle bridge is also good, with its slow rhythm perfectly adapted to the launch of a spectacular and even more intense final chorus. No need to say any more that, although not the best track on the album, is anyway of an extreme high level.
The next track is Look Of Your Eyes, a song sung entirely in English, agitated keyboard sounds and a frenetic rhythm section that set the mood for a possessive sounding chorus, once again dance orientated and very effective indeed. Again the middle section gives colour once again to this high level track.
Now for The Only One, a noisier offering than previous tracks thanks to a more funky and alternative sound; a sound that still follows the classic formula of subdued and rhythmic verses dominated by Marco’s keyboards and Kev’s guitar that although not dominant are well blended and albeit incisive. The chorus then opens up drastically with decisively heavier laden backing vocal tracks that prove to be the best and catchiest part of this excellent piece of songwriting.
Blind Game has a rather different mood and feel, almost alienated from the other styles previously offered, with a sound a little less open and in this case a song that gets straight to the point. The song offers soft and delicate verses, energetic bridges and pre-choruses with their ‘metal’ guitar influences and explosive choruses that although have a classic rock feel are once again contaminated in an interesting way by the keyboards. It does have a slight feel of the ‘done before’ regarding some of the melodies but this is not of concern as we have a great song that grips you from the beginning to the end.
We come to the last end: Neracruz offer us War Dance as the closing track. The most sinister sounding track with a rhythm created through Kev Cruz’s heavy guitar, Steve Cruz’s 4 stringed dance rhythm, a splash of electronic sampling and Raff Cruz’s dark vocal tones that are without a doubt this track’s strongpoint; a mood that renders the chorus even more powerful with its heavy sound and aggressive vocals making the whole thing even more swirling and gloomy. The result is a song quite different from the others, but of absolute impact, which concludes the album with a bang, resulting along with Moonwatch as the finest on the album.
As you can see, in short, Neracruz is an excellent album, which despite its simplicity can even reach the level of ‘masterpiece’. Of course, I must add that I am not an expert in this genre, so maybe my opinion counts for little; on the other hand though, if a metalhead, hard and pure like me, can like (and like a lot) a more mainstream band like Neracruz then well… there must be a reason, right?