Saliva – Revelation (Album Review)

By the time the early 2000s rolled around, heavy music had sustained many changes. Gone were the days of Glam Metal that dominated the ‘80s, the Grunge Rock that re-shaped the early ‘90s, and by end of the century, the scene was really looking for an identity. This is around the time Alternative Metal (a style popularized by bands like Korn and Deftones) began to peak with newly emerging acts such as Slipknot, Linkin Park, and Papa Roach. All offering something different, there were others who clawed onto the mountain as well going by the name of Saliva.

A band which has a history that dates back to 1996, they quietly put out their self-titled album in 1997, but by 2001 struck platinum with their major label debut Every Six Seconds. An album that really made some noise, at first glance, some may have thought it was your a-typical Nu Metal. However, digging deeper you immediately found there was so much more to these guys that was a throwback to older days of Heavy Rock – just listen to tracks like “After Me,” “Greater Than/Less Than,” and “Lackluster” for examples. 

From here Saliva sustained success through the decade with follow ups including 2002’s Back into Your System, and the highly unrated 2004 album Survival of the Sickest, among others. Then, months after the release of Under Your Skin in 2011, after fifteen years with the band, Lead Vocalist Josey Scott announced his departure. A tough loss, the band rebounded with Bobby Amaru joining up on vocals. Now a part of Saliva for twelve years, four studio records and one EP, Amaru has carved out a place for himself as their leader.

An important point to make, Saliva has withstood other shifts over the years as well; this includes the departure of Chris D’Abaldo (guitar) in 2005, long-time members Dave Novotny (bass) in 2015 and Paul Crosby (drummer) in 2022. Thankfully cushioning the blow, Brad Stewart (formerly of Shinedown) stepped in on bass full-time and Sammi Jo Bishop joined up behind the kit. 

Seeming as if the dust had finally settled, over the past year plus they have slowly trickled out some singles – this includes “Revelation Man,” “Crows,” and “High on Me.” Sounding really strong, out of nowhere the biggest blow to Saliva came in late March of this year when the last remaining founding member, Guitarist Wayne Swinny, passed away at fifty-nine years of age. A shock to the band and fans alike, the loss of Swinny kind of put a damper on the idea of any new releases. Although, once the grieving subsided a bit, it became clear the music the band had most recently put out, and other music they planned to release, would in fact be the final records to feature Swinny’s playing and songwriting.

Why are all these details important to mention? Because if you are a fan of Saliva, you will be experiencing the end of an era when listening to the recently released full-length album Revelation. Put out on September 8th, Revelation marks the band’s twelfth overall studio album, five with Amaru, and as outlined, final with Swinny. These factors in mind, four of twelve tracks that make up the album have already been floating around airwaves for a while; the most recent being the single “Come Back Stronger” which was released back in July.

All solid songs, each feature the signature guitar stylings of Swinny which meddle very well with Amaru’s voice. Which leaves us with the remaining songs that fill out Revelation. Curious how they fit? Well, they fit pretty well, and in truth, this could be the best material the band has done with Amaru on vocals to date. Tight, catchy, and razor sharp, tracks like “Die Before You Fly,” “How to Be Human,” and “Fractures” top the list with a quintessential Saliva tone. Of course, there are other standout moments, which include “How to Live” and “I Belong,” both bleeding tones of earlier Saliva material with blistering guitar solos and a thick atmosphere.

Overall, Saliva have created an album that fans will love, appreciate, and put next to their favorites such as Every Six Seconds and Back into Your System. Having all the key ingredients, it also must be noted that the lyrics of Amaru cut deeply; as he is an individual who has battled his own struggles in life on a path to find clarity. 

So, what does the future hold for Saliva after Revelation and the untimely passing of Swinny? No one really knows. Bobby Amaru, Brad Stewart, and Sammi Jo Bishop seem to work well together, but is there even the slightest possibility of alumni Saliva Guitarist Chris D’Abaldo rejoining the fold? Who knows! So, without any raising hopes or pondering further in any speculation, Saliva fans should dig into Revelation and revel in how good it really is. A delightful swansong for Wayne Swinny, Cryptic Rock gives Saliva’s latest 4.5 out 5 stars.

Saliva – Revelation / MRI (2023)

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