October 15, 2018 Saliva – 10 Lives (Album Review)
Once upon a time, Saliva gave you click click boom, but that’s all musical history. Now they’re back with their tenth studio offering, 10 Lives, which arrives on Friday, October 19, 2018, thanks to Megaforce Records.
Formed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1996, the Grammy-nominated Saliva exploded into the mainstream in 2001 with their double-platinum sophomore release, Every Six Seconds. Of course, a collaboration between then-vocalist Josey Scott and Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, “Hero” for the Spider-Man soundtrack, did not hurt the band’s case at all, becoming an international hit.
To cement their success and their good name, the boys went on to release seven more heavy-hitting albums over the next fourteen years – ranging from 2002’s Back Into Your System to 2016’s Love, Lies & Therapy – including a greatest hits collection, Moving Forward in Reverse, in 2010. Sure, there has been line-up changes – most recently the departure of Drummer Paul Crosby and Bassist Brad Stewart – but Saliva, now a trio, have endured.
Prepared for the latest step in their evolution, Saliva – Vocalist Bobby Amaru, Guitarist Wayne Swinny (sole remaining original member), and Drummer Tosha Jones – present their tenth studio offering, 10 Lives. Produced by frontman Bobby Amaru and Steve Perreira, the album is a labor of love that took nearly a year to make. The band explains: “This is the tenth record for us – we call it 10 Lives. The title represents where we are at in the band’s career. We feel stronger than ever… 10 Lives is about never giving up and grinding daily. We love making new records for the fans who continue to support the band through it all. This will not be the last!”
10 Lives kicks off to some badass vibes on generic rocker-stomper “Domination” with racing guitars that create a gritty rocker full of melody. This builds into a more forward-reaching atmospheric sound on “Only the Strong Survive,” full of melodic choruses that blend in moments of Rap-Rock attitude; the end result is a truly catchy offering.
“Some Shit About Love” opens with some delicious bass licks as the boys go for a seductive attempt with talk of being sex slaves and, yes, some discussion of that thing called love. It shares some sonic similarities with Blur’s phenomenal “Song 2,” so for that, it’s worth checking out. Then, the boys continue the sludgy, bass-tastic stomp with “Close to the Ledge,” a gritty confession of personal demons and playing with fire while dangerously near to the edge.
Next, the quartet dial it down a notch for the mid-tempo “One More Night,” an emotional appeal to a lover for a second chance. Meanwhile, they add in some Southern touches of dusty grit on “Helpless,” creating a sultry track that is a clear stand-out on the collection. This is Saliva firing on all cylinders: stellar musicianship, soaring vocals from Amaru, and a unique spin that is infectious with nothing generic about it!
Saliva dip even lower for the stony pace of the sludgy “Epidemic” (which clocks in at 4:20, ahem), a look at the slippery slope of drug use. There’s a focused intensity to the band’s sound here, their passion clear to the ears. Unfortunately, they follow this up by dialing it back up for the generic, catchy rocker “Gone Away,” before they go even bolder and louder with the brazen “The Warning,” an anthemic appeal to a sickening world that stands for nothing. Here, Saliva implore us to reach through the divide to fight for something bigger than our individual selves – and beg us to open our eyes.
“The Snake” slithers and stomps through some exceptional guitar-work, ultimately meandering its way into the revenge-seeking romper-stomper “Make You Famous,” a mocking taunt. Reverberating bass begins “Pissed,” which, in some of its best moments, comes dangerously close to Filter’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot” – but with some unamused lyrics about being, well, pissed. Looking toward the future, they return to Rap-Rock verses for the stomping rocker “When I’m Gone,” before, ultimately, they end with “Some Thing About Love,” which is literally “Some Shit About Love,” minus the cussing and, therefore, made more radio-friendly.
There is nothing wrong with 10 Lives, despite its largely standard approach to Hard Rock. Nearly all of the album’s songs fit a standard 3.5-minute songwriting formula, covering universally broad topics that have been done ad nauseum (i.e. there’s plenty of shit about love and drugs). Which is basically a very nice way of saying that 10 Lives is not wall-to-wall bangers; it is a journey of highs and mundane lulls.
Saliva sound best when they go for the sludgy, Southern-dusted Rock that is a frequent staple of Hard Rock icons such as Alice In Chains. Here, they fire on all cylinders and truly shine brighter than when they are cranking out generic Rock anthems. Which is to say that Saliva have talent, clearly as they have been on the scene for over two decades, but they degrade that talent somehow when they pigeonhole themselves into a standardized Hard Rock approach. Amaru has a great voice – use it to your advantage, boys! For these reasons, CrypticRock give Saliva’s 10 Lives 3.5 of 5 stars.