Saliva has a split personality; some songs are modern hard rock with a bit of rap-style metal, while others are edgy pop rock with awesome hooks and sing along choruses. Likewise, singer Josey Scott will either growl or sing. Anybody can growl and talk their way through a song, so when he does this it is unremarkable, but when he sings his talents as an excellent rock vocalist truly shine through. That is the part of Saliva that makes my mouth water.
Unfortunately, the catchy songs are few and far between on their new release “Cinco Diablo”. Their last effort, “Blood Stained Love Story” and brilliant 2002 record, “Back Into Your System”, were full of radio ready hits that effectively combined their split persona to do the rap metal thing with their talent for infectious melodies. “Cinco Diablo” is more like “Survival of the Sickest” in that the songs are loud and thick, but there is no grace to this musical muscle. They sound like they are going through the motions – a rinse and repeat of previous recordings.
The lead off track, “Family Reunion” is classic Saliva, who have to put at least one retread tune that they can use to wind up the crowd at concerts. The opening line “Ladies and gentlemen, here we come again…” is delivered more like a warning than a call for something new and exciting. The chorus is good, but we’ve heard it before in “Holding On” a few records back. The tune “Southern Girls”, which finds Saliva sounding like .38 Special’s “Drivetrain” CD, is way too close to Motley Crue’s “Girls Girls Girls”. Still, I’d count these two songs among the better selections on this surprisingly short CD of only 10 tracks.
Other standouts for me included “Forever and A Day”, a classic Saliva power ballad done right with an amazing vocal by Josey. “So Long”, the final track, is quite an interesting departure for the band. I enjoyed the refreshing acoustic guitar and piano-driven rhythm and thought this is a great example of the crossover potential this band has but did not maximize on this record.
Hardcore Saliva fans will no doubt enjoy “Cinco Diablo”, but will probably be disappointed at the short length and lack of material that ventures outside of the band’s comfort zone. The more casual fans like me who love it when they stay focused on great hooks, smart melodies, and singing rather than rapping, will be less than thrilled.
Saliva – Official site.