Review: Saving Abel – ‘Saving Abel’

Posted: March 9th, 2008
Contributed By: Nick

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Release Date: March 11th, 2008 via Virgin
Saving Abel is:
Jared Weeks (Vocals)
Jason Null (Guitar)
Scott Bartlett (Guitar)
Eric Taylor (Bass)
Blake Dixon (Drums)

Overview: Saving Abel sprung out of small-town Mississippi in 2004, with members from various groups around the area joining forces to begin writing what would become the first cuts of Saving Abel’s repertoire; from there, the band never looked back. It was no more than a year after Saving Abel’s conception that the tunes the quintet were penning started to garner high accolades, most notably from famed producer Skidd Mills. Mills took the band under his wing and helmed the boards behind their then latest disc, tracking blueprints for several of the tunes that would re-appear on their major label debut including the renowned “Addicted”. Yes, it was the aforementioned track that lured labels to Saving Abel, with Virgin Records taking the bait and signing on to drop the band’s premier opus. The five returned to Mills to tweak and polish a chunk of the material from their previous EP, as well as track a slew of brand new songs, with ‘Saving Abel‘ being the fruit of their collective efforts. Look for the band on tour all spring alongside Sick Puppies and 10 Years among others.

The Good: Saving Abel‘ is an electrifying rock album that covers a gamut of styles and emotions, tugging you back and forth between savory bits of searing riffage and soulful, poignant anthems. The album begins with the roaring “New Tattoo”, a driving and upbeat tirade that also provides a revealing first glimpse into the band’s incredibly witty lyrical prowess. The venturesome “Addicted” is next, an infectious track that will have you singing along in no time, which couples fluently with the towering and dynamic “She Got Over Me”; give the latter an extra listen, and watch how quickly it becomes a favorite. The passionate side of Saving Abel is exemplified by the heartfelt “18 Days”, but the band soon replaces tears with adrenaline as the gritty and forceful “In God’s Eyes” pays testament. Incubus fans will certainly relish “Beautiful Day”, a sultry and sensitive mid-tempo ballad that is unflinching in its craft, while those who enjoy a little cowboy in their rock-’n’-roll will devour “Running From You”, chockfull of western vibes and grooves that will have you up off your ass and shaking to the beat in no time. The core of ‘Saving Abel‘, in my opinion is achieved through an intertwining of four tracks. “Drowning (Face Down)” is contestant one, a whimsical and dangerously catchy affair that could potentially kill as a single. However the same could be said for “Sailed Away”, another smash-hit hopeful that combines soaring melodies with some of the most well-textured material on the album. For those who are searching for a hulky dose of the previously mentioned radio anthems that still manage to cling to your senses without the “radio ready” feel, “Out of My Face” is here to serve you; an astute hybrid of acid-washed grunge patterns and present day hooks, this song might just whet your whistle. If “Out of My Face” fails to do the trick, then the album’s final dance, “Beautiful You” will undoubtedly have you smiling, as the tune is chockfull of not just meaty and expansive grunge-rock guitar work, but also an abundance of eclectic and memorable catch phrases. ‘Saving Abel‘ is, in abstract terms, somewhat like duct tape-heavy duty, multi-purpose, strong and sturdy, and able to bind together a bounty of elements with complete success.

The Bad: Fault-finding this gem is rather difficult, but if I must, I’ll go with the “this is your typical, predictable modern rock album” route and be somewhat justified. Although creativity and ingenuity run rampant throughout this album, the infrastructure of Saving Abel’s sound is an all-too-familiar concoction of glossy, prepped for radio anthems buoyed by testosterone-fueled lyrics with a handful of solos thrown in for good measure. It pains me to have said that because despite the brutal honesty, ‘Saving Abel‘ really does soar where many albums of a similar nature have failed. Is Saving Abel treading any new ground with this album?-hardly. Does the band stray far from its comfort zone?-never. But in spite of those parameters, does ‘Saving Abel‘ prove the group has stellar writing chops and a knack for crafting one catchy rock tune after the next?-you bet your ass.

Bottomline: Saving Abel‘ might not send a jolt through the mainstream rock world, but it will certainly make a sizable dent, as Saving Abel’s debut is not only insightful, but also refreshingly nostalgic in its demeanor. The band juggles a potpourri of elements from their 90′s predecessors on its debut-the rawness of ‘Frogstomp‘, the edginess of ‘Foo Fighters‘, the catchiness of ‘Sixteen Stone‘-and uses all of them to their advantage, turning already solid musical efforts into pulsating, modern grunge rock powerhouses. Saving Abel’s ballads are never boring, their lyrics never pedantic, their focus never diminishing. In a time where keeping people’s attention to a no-frills rock band has become increasingly difficult due to extensive genre over-saturation, Saving Abel’s debut album is one thing many discs of a similar nature are not-memorable.

Rating: 9 out of 10