There’s something I find genuinely a bit foreboding about Santa Cruz Down On My Knees. Is it the three scraggle haired beast men drugging and, umm, taroting their way through some hellish Dutch neon demimonde on the cover picture? is it the fact that the insert looks like it has been made via the under-used (in contemporary heavy metal) medium of potato printing? is it the fact that the none-more-metal-named record company Motorwolf appears to have no real internet presence? is it the fact that one of the guitarists is called Selwyn Slop? Is it the fact that even though I have just listened to it I can remember nothing about three sides of this double LP already, but side C has some sinister, eldritch hold over me? Mum, I’m scared!
I fear that Down On Your Knees does not really exist outside of this room, that a malevolent Dutch doom-boogie spirit placed a solitary copy in Probe Records, Liverpool on 13 June 2012 solely for the purpose of ensnaring my mortal soul and securing the eternal rights to my pert buns for, like, forever and shit. I mean have you ever heard of them? Will Satan wipe all traces of this post from your memory once you’ve read it? Or will you, like I will be, be forced to peddle your accursed wares in Gehenna for all eternity. Okay so there’s an untended Bandcamp page but that’s about it out there for Santa Cruz*.
I genuinely can’t remember the delights of the likes of ‘Black Needle’, ‘Demain (Always a Loner)’, or even their cover of Isaac Hayes via ZZ Top, ‘I Thank you’, it just won’t stick. It’s all perfectly good boogie doom rock, a bit short on finesse and tunes, but that’s all.
BUT like I said slip on the 15 minute ‘What Is Love? (Crystal Meth Boogie)’ and it’s a completely different story, its incredible. It starts off at a funereal pace, Guy Tavares** crooning ‘What is love? I don’t quite understand’ in a manner that is so threatening it would constitute an assault in most legal jurisdictions. Then it builds up and up, unbearably so until you, the listener are actually standing astride a vast wicker penguin in an unforgiving landscape*^ and then the band just open the throttle and roar on off into the black. If this track were a bike, it would be a jet black, spiky one with black flame details painted on it, ridden by evil grinning skeletons, the smell of their fetid shrouds catching in your throat, flames from the exhaust ripping back into the night; the journey hellish, the destination awaiting you even worse. Masterful stuff.
This is just perfection, as the insert proclaims, Black Ritual Acid Drug Rock Enforcement, and I don’t think the ‘enforcement’ bit refers to any attempts to stop you. ‘What Is Love? (Crystal Meth Boogie)’ changes pace a few times too and each time it really does sound like a phalanx of the Dis chapter of the Hell’s Angels roaring on by. I’ve really not heard anything less subtle for years and I keep coming back to it, time after time – it’s one of my fave sides of music to iron to. Fact! Which is, I’m sure precisely the effect Santa Cruz had in mind when cutting this LP.
There I’ve said my bit, maybe this is a real record, chances are Down On My Knees is a trap for my immortal soul – in which case bring it on. As Motorwolf’s motto states ‘Si vis pacem para bellum’, which I have just enough Latin to translate as ‘if you want peace, then prepare for war … on your own nervous system, motherfucker’.
532 Down (on my knees).
PS – this is an alternative LP cover for them taken on a walk yesterday, about a mile from my house. Damn brooding, I reckon.
*not to be confused with a bunch of fluffy-haired Finns from the late 80’s, early 90’s.
**guessing this is his real name, even though it would just be triple awesome if he had assumed the surname out of love for the 70’s disco dudes.
*^standing astride one in a nice park wouldn’t quite have the same effect.