We need you to find a comfortable space that’s not only comfortable, but vulnerable. Just shut your eyes and go there and we’ll meet you on the other side.
Salival is an odd album, released between Aenima and Lateralus, as a kind of stop-gap, compilation album, rarities collection thing. It has nine songs. Five of them are live (including one cover), two of them are the sort of weird sound-collage/spoken word things that Tool does and then two studio recordings (including one cover). The album is really variable. It starts super strong with a three song live set with a searing album-opening version of Third Eye and ending with a really raw, beautiful version of Pushit that’s just right up there with the best stuff the band has ever done in my opinion. The other live tracks though are pretty weak sauce, particularly the interminable instrumental Merkaba. The studio tracks are similarly variable. The studio cover is a great version of Zeppelin’s No Quarter that didn’t really do much for me the first time I heard it, but really grew on me with repeated listens. The spoken word/sound collage tracks are pretty bad and the other studio song seems to be about Maynard’s penis or something and is the most unfinished sounding of the tracks here. It also literally ends with several seconds of Maynard burping into the microphone and making farting noises with his mouth. That’s actually kind of insulting. I should also say that the production values are super-super-high; this album sounds fantastic. The live tracks have this real weight to them that’s kind of hard to describe, but it’s some of the best recording quality I’ve ever heard on live tracks, I think. The album also comes with a DVD that features Tool’s significant music videos for Aenima, Stinkfist, Prison Sex, Hush and Sober. Tool’s music videos are unique works of art, but also not really my cup of tea; worth a watch once, I’d say, but that’s about it. Back when this was originally released, there was also a version that came with a VHS tape instead of a DVD. Oh, 2000, feels so recent, feels so far away. But this album really is a hodge-podge and extremely variable; the fact that the album doesn’t ever purport to be anything else will either refresh you with its honesty or irritate you with its laziness. 2 stars.
tl;dr – hodge-podge collection of unreleased studio tracks and live recordings is extremely variable; occasionally borders on greatness, but more often sits squarely MOR. 2 stars.