Theory of a Deadman

Savages

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Despite the alienating snarl of the title Savages, Theory of a Deadman find space for guests on their fifth album. Alice Cooper wanders into the title track to mumble a recitation and Joe Don Rooney -- aka the Rascal Flatt who plays guitar but doesn't front the band -- comes in for the tongue-in-cheek "Livin' My Life Like a Country Song." This isn't the only time TOAD play around on Savages. They jab at Chris Brown and the Kardashians on "Blow," they claim they're living through "World War Me," they write an ode to their "Panic Room," and they enlist a children's choir to help them bring "The Sun Has Set on Me" to its rousing conclusion. Technically, a couple of these cuts probably don't qualify as intentional jokes but they are indeed ridiculous -- overheated post-grunge distinguished only by its macho lumber. As before, producer Howard Benson gives TOAD a muscular sound that accentuates the group's debt to Nickelback -- they both specialize in growled singsong riffs -- and his sinewy sheen is perhaps a bit better than the group deserves; he shines the big, dumb hooks and layers the riffs so they contain a visceral force that isn't within the songs themselves. So, Savages is listenable on the surface, but dig deeper -- or simply take the time to listen to Tyler Connolly's lyrics -- and the sonic spell quickly fades, because beneath all that metallic gloss there's nothing but nasty, vacuous nonsense.

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