Saliva – [Album]

Friday, 25 March 2011

To be honest, I did not come into this album prepared to enjoy it; I was ready to tear it apart. I was prepared for generic, used-up guitar riffs straining to achieve the heaviness of their hard rock brethren. I expected some mainstream, radio-friendly, pseudo-country hard rock, a sound that probably should have died along with the sales of underground Y2K bunkers. I expected the classic major label practice of stuffing the best songs into the first third of the album, leaving the rest as province of pure filler. I can’t say that my expectations weren’t completely unfounded (grim experience has fostered them over the years), but I was very pleasantly surprised by Under Your Skin.

Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, hard rock band Saliva has been putting out records for over fifteen years now. They’ve had a fair bit of success; topping out Billboard’s Modern Rock Chart at #1 with their single “Always” from their 2002 album Back Into Your System. I’ve always known them for their first mainstream hit, “Click Click Boom”i – which has shown up in so many trailers for action movies that it’s not even funny anymore – but now Saliva is back with their newest album Under Your Skin, their seventh studio album.

"Badass” throws you head first into the album, hearkening back to the band's nu-metal roots with heavy guitars, pinch harmonics and the classic late Nineties/early millennial love-it-or-hate-it rap-rock swagger. I’m not much of a lyrics man myself – usually pushing them into the background and focusing on the instruments – but the words here are particularly cliché and silly. “Badass” makes for a driving opening but doesn’t really show the true colors of the rest of the album.

When “Better Days” began playing through my speakers, I had an “Ohhh” moment; realizing that maybe this album it’s just going to be another nu-metal reprise. Saliva’s Memphis roots really show through, displaying fine-tuned southern hard rock guitars and vocals alike. Although not officially a single yet, I would be very surprised if this track doesn’t become one of their radio hits.

Nothing,” the first single released from Under Your Skin, deals with the age-old lyrical fodder of the breakup/I want you back song. Being the first single, it does feel overproduced and repetitive. Singer Josey Scott jams the main chorus down your throat over and over again, a frenzied force-feeding to make sure the female subject of the track knows that there is “nothing (nothing nothing nothing!) I can do to get me over you.”

The album continues rolling along, a handful of gems along the way. “Hate Me” has some strangely Eighties-sounding electronic drums and heavy vocal effects which seem a little off-kilter from the rest of the album, but the catchy hook in the chorus saves the song. “Never Should’ve Let You Go” is a country-rock ballad, once again invoking that intangible love-lost-but-not-forgotten feeling. Just when you think they’d left the rap-rock for dead at the first track, “Burn It Up” scorches through, and brings with it all that angst and bad rapping that we all keep hoping will just go away. “Toxic Suicide” is a cheesy but lovable rock song about drinking yourself to death and the album finishes off with “Spotlight.” This final track is a hybrid of all the styles employed throughout Under Your Skin; a chugging nu-metal guitar opening followed by semi-rapping lyrics which flow into a chorus fit for the Country Music Television channel.

As mentioned above, I had low expectations for this album, but what I got was a nice little surprise. Under Your Skin is filled with driving guitar riffs and lovable choruses that will be glued into my brain for far longer than I’d like to admit. If you’ve ever been a fan of Saliva, or that 'Top 200 Hard Rock' feel, check this album out. Saliva is still going strong after fifteen grueling years in the mainstream spotlight.



Under Your Skin
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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