Having come of age musically in the 80’s, the decade that followed forced me to further expand my identity. Although now I can appreciate a few grunge bands, at that time, I just couldn’t stomach it. I really can’t remember being excited about many tunes until the birth of nu-metal. Those bands gave me hope that metal could move forward. One of my favorites was Saliva. I had every word from Every Six Seconds memorized. The deluge of bands that fell into the genre soon caused me to lose track of Saliva but they would pop up with a song I liked every now and again.
With the recent release of their ninth studio album, Love, Lies and Therapy, Saliva is back to show they can be more than a nu-metal band. They’ve gone through an almost total lineup change (guitarist Wayne Swinny is the lone founding member) which seems to have revitalized them. On just his second album with the band, lead vocalist Bobby Amaru wrote and produced much of this offering which deals with dark themes surrounding addiction.
Love, Lies and Therapy blazes right out of the gate with the driving “Trust” featuring Swinny‘s signature guitar sound. Although many new elements for the band exist on the album, touches of nu-metal permeate throughout. In fact, “Tragic Kind of Love” is a classic example of the genre. Crowds will love singing along to the high-energy rockers “Bitch Like You” and “Rx”. Known for their arena anthems like “Click Click Boom” and “Superstar”, Saliva continues the tradition here with the songs “Go Big or Go Home” and “Refuse to Lose”. I predict you will soon hear these two at sporting events soon and/or in athletic company advertisements. Both contain the rap-rock components that shaped the band’s earlier success. Also included is the catchy, mid-tempo “Broken Wings” with its introspective exploration of the addict’s behavior. Really, the only questionable inclusion on the album is the remake of Michael Jackson‘s “They Don’t Care About Us”. Although the band does a good job of making it their own, I wonder why they chose this number. Even before I realized this had previously been recorded by the King of Pop, I felt it was out of place with the rest of the tunes on this album. It seems to exist only as a sociopolitical statement.
Now, let’s take a moment to discuss the slower music on this release. In general, Saliva has not been known for ballads in the past but with new blood in the band, there seems to have been a shift in this area. There are four on Love, Lies and Therapy – two power ballads and two acoustic – each more beautiful than the last. The musicianship on all four are superb. The acoustic “Breakdown” which includes orchestral touches showcases the gritty beauty of Amaru‘s vocals. I haven’t figured out which band “Loneliest Know” sounds like but it is very different than other Saliva songs with its soft harmonies and gentle beat. The pleading “Unshatter Me” begins softly before building to a crushing guitar riff. Perhaps the best example of the growth the band has achieved can be found in “Hand in Hand”, the album closer. Swinny‘s guitar soars until it reaches the blistering solo while Amaru‘s voice is filled with the pain and anguish evoked by the lyrics where he seems to be burying the past as he heads into the future.
Love, Lies and Therapy is slickly produced with a terrific mix on the instruments and the vocals. I love that even though Saliva is beginning to explore different musical directions that they have not completely erased their nu-metal roots. I hope that as they continue to evolve they will still be able to add an element or two here and there. Nine albums and a few personnel changes have served to make Saliva better and Love, Lies and Therapy is the proof. I am looking forward to hearing where this journey of discovery leads them next.