Sound — 8
"Survival Of The Sickest" is the fourth major release of the Memphis band Saliva. In contrast to their previous albums, on "Survival" Saliva decided to refuse their usual rap-metal sounding and try something new. The band grew in terms of the sound quality -- this record got more professional sound which, besides, hasn't lost its own appeal. The actual style of this new record can be described as angry hard-rock with a thin coating of alternative metal. The endeavour to master new grounds is rather a good attempt, however they should be afraid to spill over into a slightly commercialized music. On "Survival" Saliva is moving far away from their own well-trodden rap-metal road and jumping between several music styles. Thus, there are no absolutely identical tracks to concider the album monotonous. The opening tune "Rock & Roll Revolution" is the bridge between their early and current sounding where you can find Josey Scott (vocal) rapping and screaming together with low tuned agressive guitars. Very impressive start for the album. Second track "Bait & Switch" is hard-rock tribute to the classics of Guns N' Roses with a really nice vocals. It's necessary to note a perfect work of guitarists Chris D'Abaldo and Wayne Swinny in "One Night Only". "Survival Of The Sickest" -- the both lead-off single and the title track -- is a very amusing and catchy track with a good work of the whole band. The following "No Regrets Vol. 2" and 7th "Open Eyes" are the only slow tracks on "Survival" -- a 'pause' between the rest of "Survival"'s heavy and speed tracks. [Ok, ok... "Razor's Age" isn't a speedy metal too, but it's a different story.] "Two Steps Back" is one of that outstanding tracks with catchy melody and a patriotic lyrics. "Fuck All Y'all" is a headbanging track from start to finish -- with Scott's Hetfield-like [of Metallica] vocals its sound absorbed the best traditions of metal. The only good thing on "I Want You" is the impressive job of bassist Dave Novotny and drummer Paul Crosby. "Razor's Edge" features 3 Doors Down singer Brad Arnold. In my humble opinion, this is the best track of "Survaival". That song has a future with no doubt -- it has that impressive alternation of slow and soft verses with hard and grinding choruses. I will leave "No Hard" for the fans and move straight to the hidden track. There is a short 5-sec gap on the CD before "Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll" knocks you back in your seat. This song, with expressive vocals and smooth guitar solo, is a perfect ending for the album.
Lyrics — 6
In regards to the lyrics, Scott hasn't improved his songwriting skills. Overall lyrics aren't great except for some eminent patterns. As against to Scott's bandmates -- which have learned a couple new licks and scales since their previous album -- Scott uses the same old whiny opus about difficulties of rockstar's life. It's evident that lyrics aren't a strong side of Saliva, but just an addition to the music. As to the Scott's vocal skills -- he is a talented singer. He hasn't his own whatever manner of execution and it's always interesting to look forward to what surprise has he prepared for this time. Unlike earlier albums of Saliva, Scott's voice became more melodic, emotional and... argh... whiny.
Overall Impression — 8
"Survival Of The Sickest" is just a big step forward for the band. It shows that the band (minus frontman) improved significantly -- barring some of the tracks, it's a perfectly composed and produced record of talanted musicians. It worth getting some of the previous Saliva's records to compare how the band rose from the customary astringent alternative/rap-metal sound to their own style. There are still a few things that could use some improvement though -- tendency to over-rely on power chords and aforementioned weak lyrics.