Blood Stained Love Story

by: Saliva

It's not Saliva's fault that the times moved on and Saliva didn't -- like many bands, they simply fell out of fashion as the years rolled on. Nevertheless, it's a bit of a shock to hear their fourth album, Blood Stained Love Story, and hear just how stuck in the late '90s the band is and not just because they still dabble in the rap-rock they built their reputation upon. That sound still bubbles to the surface throughout this record, but they also try to expand their horizons, usually through flourishes that sound like '90s heavy rock clichés that they haven't gotten around to yet. There are drop-D tunings; Nirvana rewrites, like the pretty catchy "Black Sheep"; earnest crossover post-grunge power ballads that bring to mind a less bombastic Creed ("Starting Over") or a rougher Third Eye Blind ("Never Gonna Change"); harmonies pulled off Alice in Chains records; even slight electronica colorings to set the mood, and the whole thing is wrapped up in an album that feels like a pseudo concept album along the lines of Marilyn Manson's Holy Wood, even if it never quite manages to tell a story. These are all qualities that make Blood Stained Love Story float outside of time, as if it were a record designed to rule the charts in 2000 instead of 2007, but even as Saliva try to reconnect with the heavy rock of their first albums -- even reuniting with their first producer, Bob Marlette -- they can't escape the fact that they sound like a band that has been toiling away for a decade, turning into professionals along the way. There's not much hunger here, but there is precision, along with a creeping sense of maturity in how they polish their craft and now sound more comfortable with power ballads than they do with hard rockers. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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