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Saliva – Survival of the Sickest ; Breaking Benjamin – We Are Not Alone

SalivaSurvival of the SickestIsland

Breaking BenjaminWe Are Not AloneHollywood

I’m not a musician, so (obviously) I’m not in a position togive advice to musicians. But I feel like I can make an exception withSaliva, a band that probably don’t have a lot of professionalpretensions. And here’s my advice: Make an instrumental album. Or analbum where all the lyrics are sung in a different language. Cantonese,perhaps. I realize that sounds vaguely insulting, especially sincevocalist Josey Scott is supposedly the “brains” of this outfit and thedriving force behind Survival of the Sickest. But the factremains: This album would be better without Scott screaming aboutabsolute nonsense. Somebody should send these dudes a Tortoise record.

Survival of the Sickestopens with a song called “Rock & Roll Revolution” and ends with ahidden track called “Sex, Drugs & Rock-n-Roll.” This is interestingfor two reasons. The first is that Saliva is clearly experiencing acrisis of confidence over how one should punctuate the phrase rock’n’roll. The second is that the “revolution” they speak of is actually a reactionary attempt to make rock music sound exactlyas it’s always sounded. Scott criticizes unnamed rival bands who”whine” about wanting to “save the world,” ordering them to “stepaside.” I have no idea which bands he thinks he’s referring to; it’spossible these lyrics were written by Sebastian Bach in 1993. Still,there’s some punishing Godsmackian guitar work on Survival of the Sickest, and the production has a Montana-esque vastness that will undoubtedly sound good on terrible radio stations across the U.S.

I’malso in no position to advise songwriters. Billy Corgan, on the otherhand, is a different story. According to the press kit for BreakingBenjamin’s We Are Not Alone, Corgan co-wrote three songs withBenjamin frontman Ben Burnley, and advised him to “think outside thebox.” Excellent. Maybe next time Corgan will tell Burnley toproactively create synergy and outsource his core competencies. It’s awin-win!

Burnley sounds like Tool’s Maynard James Keenan–if he werein a really good mood. But his songs are kind of stock, except for thethree he wrote with Corgan; those are smarter and slightly lessconventional. “Follow” is built around a staccato guitar riff thatreminds me of Ozzy sideman Jake E. Lee and sounds like top-shelfChristian metal. The record’s concluding ballad (“Rain,” alsoco-written with Corgan) is mediocre Oasis, which means it’s stillpretty good. These guys are so far outside the box they’re practicallyinside a rhombus–slanted, if not necessarily enchanted.

Grades: Saliva, C- Breaking Benajmin, C+