Sound — 7
Theory of a Deadman formed in 2001, and basically got their first record deal by being the first band to sign to Chad Kroeger's 604 Records label imprint. They accomplished this by giving him their demo at an after-party after a Nickelback concert. They released their debut album shortly after in 2002, and since that time they've had a lot of success with a lot of their material being used by sporting events and professional wrestling. In addition, they've found that sweet spot for heavy rotation on rock radio since early in their career. The band lineup has been consistent except for the drummer - they're currently on Joey Dandeneau, drummer number four. The band began working on "Savages," their fifth studio album, in late 2013. The album contains 13 tracks with an approximate runtime of 46 minutes. The track "Drown" was released as the lead single for the album.
The album opens with the lead single, "Drown," which is heavy drop-D riffing, and a driving bass guitar and some interesting vocal processing used sporadically through the song. "Blow" is basically using semi-current events as lyrical fodder - citing Chris Brown's woman-beating as something they are not, referencing Kanye West's comments about rock being dead, blaming it on him coming off of his "meds" - and referencing these current events as a motivation to "blow my f--king head off." Next up is the title track, "Savages," which features Alice Cooper. I would have to say that this song did catch my attention more than a lot of the rest of the album, but in large part because I'm a big Alice Cooper fan. "Misery of Mankind" starts out with the lyrics "all you want to do is stuff your face and be annoying/ all you want to do with me is fight fight fight," which is basically a different kind of bad girlfriend, I guess. "Salt in the Wound" is like part 2 of "Bad Girlfriend" (now I'll stop the "Bad Girlfriend" references). The song actually has a pretty catchy feel to it, but I wasn't feeling the choruses. "Angel" seems like it is considering ripping off Miley's "Wrecking Ball" for the melody, but doesn't quite pull the trigger on straight up ripping it off and only borrows heavily instead. "Heavy" is some heavy drop-D riffing, with the song basically glorifying in how much they love heavy music played loud while they drink lots of beer and party. "Panic Room" is basically some catchy riffing with almost comical vocal melody in the verses. "The One" is a piano-driven love song - it's "one for the ladies," exploring the possibility of maybe they could have made it if they hadn't let their temper get the better of them, and possibly she was the one and she had got away. "Livin' My Life Like a Country Song," which features Joe Don Rooney from Rascal Flatts, is essentially a modern country song (lap steel included) and is a breakup song about how the songwriter's life fell apart when his girl went away. "World War Me" has a really cool melody running through it, but it is also strangely familiar - I can't quite place it. "In Ruins" has a weird little backwards piano echo-y thing going on in the intro, which is pretty interesting, and the choir type "oohs" in the song are pretty interesting, but the track lost me from there. "The Sun Has Set on Me" opens up with children laughing, and then a crow cawing, but musically this track was definitely one of my favorites from the first note, but I wasn't a fan of the vocals and lyrics.
Lyrics — 7
Tyler Connolly provides lead vocals on the album with the other members providing backing vocals, which is in line with the band's previous releases. Tyler is a solid vocalist and there isn't really anything negative to say about his vocals. The rest of the band providing backing vocals has always been a nice touch. I'm not really feeling most of the vocals on the album, however. As a sample of the lyrics on the album, here are some from "Blow," which are probably the most interesting lyrics on the album: "Uh huh/ Sometimes it makes me (uh huh)/ wanna blow my f--king head off/ sometimes it makes me (uh huh)/ think the world has gone officially insane/ where everything's a scandal/ the news too hard to handle/ world is so unbearable like wearing socks with sandals/ I'm a lover, not a fighter/ respectable to women/ ain't Chris Brown, I don't feel the need to hit 'em/ sad to see a twelve year old/ acting like a little hoe/ taking naked pictures while she's living in her parent's home/ post em up on Twitter/ make you reconsider/ every time you go online to find a babysitter." The lyrics spend a lot of time in the realm of the ridiculous - I can't decide if those lyrics work for the song or not.
Overall Impression — 7
I don't have a chip on my shoulder against radio rock, exactly, but I also can't understand people taking these bands out of context. There are way too many people who would name bands like Theory of a Deadman or Nickelback as their favorite band, and that completely blows my mind. Their songs aren't bad, but they aren't exceptional either - they aren't adventurous enough to be exceptional - they follow a carefully formulated blueprint to create ultra-marketable music. So, in closing to my mini-rant, this album is okay as background music but it isn't exceptional. My favorite track would absolutely be the title track, "Savages," which includes Alice Cooper as a guest star. I also liked parts of "World War Me," but I couldn't get behind the song completely. Musically, "The Sun Has Set on Me" was a really interesting track. My favorite part of the album is still Alice Cooper's little monologue in "Savages."