By JASON PRICE
It wasn?t long ago when the sounds of n?-metal were breathing life into the stale, struggling rock scene of the late ?90s and early 2000s. But as with any fad, it didn?t take long for the industry to figure out the formula and dilute the scene by churning out clones of the genre leaders. Eventually the scene burned itself out, but there are a few bands associated with it that are still forging ahead with new material. P.O.D. is one of these early n?-metal pioneers that continues to break new sonic ground. The are poised to release there seventh studio album, When Angels and Serpents Dance, and are setting themselves apart from many of their counterparts by continuing to a unique voice to the masses.
P.O.D. has been around in one form or another since 1992. They have experienced both high and lows in that time, including two stellar, multi-platinum albums and the departure of a core member (guitarist Marcos Curiel). Now, in 2008, the band is looking to put their past behind them and focus on what the future holds. When Angels and Serpents Dance is less about the past and more of a road to the future, yet it still has the undeniable passion that only P.O.D. can deliver.
With the original lineup of the band back in place, it seems that the chemistry within P.O.D. has been renewed. The new album at first listen is just as powerful as the two discs (The Fundamental Elements of Southtown and Satellite) that made them a household name. Casual listeners may be surprised to learn that the P.O.D of 2008 is much more than the heavily-rotated MTV hit-maker they remember. The band evolves on every release and this one is no exception. Sonny Sandoval takes a more melodic approach with his vocals on many of the tracks, as opposed to the rap/rock style many might expect. Have no fear, Sonny?s flow is alive and well. He just no longer relies solely upon it.
Simply put, the album is raw, ferocious and eclectic. It kicks off with ?Addicted,? a song custom made for the Curiel?s return. Curiel?s axe wails on this track and fills the void in the P.O.D formula in the past few years. Sandoval?s lyrics are just as powerful and timely, if not more so, than in previous outings. Fans looking for a deeper lyrical content than what is being force fed to the masses certainly will not be disappointed.
The album also pays tribute to some of the band?s musical influences with some terrific cameos. ?Kaliforn-Eye-A? features So-Cal legend Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves fame. The song is at its core a look back at their youth and the influences that shaped the band members into the men we see today. The collaboration serves as a noteworthy moment in the history of the band. The Marley Sisters (the daughters of Bob Marley) make an appearance on ?I?ll Be Ready,? a powerful reggae-infused track that is one of my favorite on this release. The band also employs the services of Helmet?s Paige Hamilton on ?God Forbid,? one of the album?s most aggressive tracks. It is every bit as heavy as anything you can find on the radio today and is screaming to be released as a single to outlets catering to heavier music, be it satellite or hard rock stations. Another gem on this album is the semi-acoustic track ?Tell Me Why.? It focuses on the current political climate in the world. The powerful, beautifully written ballad captures the spirit of our times and is a testament to the band?s songwriting ability.
When Angels and Serpents Dance is a solid album. It is good to see musicians who aren?t afraid to change and do things on their own terms. Hopefully, with the music industry changing more every day, others will take notice and follow the lead of musicians that aren’t afraid to take risks.
THE VERDICT: 4/5
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.