|On Fire: P.O.D.'s Murdered Love | Posted July 10, 2012
Two decades ago, an innovative reggae-influenced rapcore band titled P.O.D. (which stands for Payable On Death) exploded out of San Diego California. Their hard work throughout the 90s steadily built up a reputation and a fanbase that would serve as a good foundation when Satellite hit the charts in 2001. The triple-platinum record secured P.O.D. a well deserved place in the nu-metal era with songs like "Alive," "Boom," and "Youth of the Nation." After several more strong albums, Grammy nominations, and a constantly growing fan base, the band took a break. 2008's When Angels and Serpents Dance was the last we heard from them for a while... until now. Murdered Love marks 20 years since P.O.D. first took the stage.
The album begins with the razor edged "Eyez." This is one of several songs on the album that focuses on coming glory and seeing beyond this life (the almost worship-oriented "Higher" is another song on this same theme). The crunchy, almost choppy delivery of the title track "Murdered Love" fits the subject matter perfectly as the song explores stories of loving people who were murdered. This is one of the songs on the album reminiscent of old school Linkin Park, offering a bracing dose of harsh aggression unusual on recent rock releases.
"Lost in Forever" was the album's lead single, and with good reason. Grungy guitar riffs back up lead singer Sonny Sandoval's vocals as the aching lyrics climb through a perfect fusion of melody and rap. "West Coast Rock Steady" lightens the mood a bit with a throw back to the band's hip-hop California roots in a party song flavored with a dose of 90s alternative.
One of the most widely accessible songs on the album is "Beautiful," exploring some of the same themes as P.O.D.'s song "Youth of the Nation" from ten years ago. The gentle, almost soothing song explores the story of an abused, addicted young person who is waiting to die. The song takes an unusually tender tone as it declares "you're beautiful to me."
The reggae vibe pushes its way to the surface on the dark track "Babylon the Murderer." An in-your-face selection follows with the anthemic "On Fire," a blistering battle cry for the band. The following skater kid love song "Bad Boy" is a testimony to the album's diversity, holding down the reggae influence while drawing on some serious musical attitude.
"Panic and Run" carries on with a fast-paced punk sound. Here Sandoval proves again that his vocals are still strong after 20 years of use as Marcos Curiel displays some beautifully distorted guitar tones. This track is also one of many that shows the band's skill with unusual timing and pacing that captures and holds the listener's attention.
One of the most interesting selections on the album is closing track "I Am." With its brutally honest description of the human soul, the song will be hard for many listeners to swallow. Sonny Sandoval spits the words with a distinctive venom, speaking from the viewpoint of a kind of everyman sinner figure wondering who on Earth this Jesus is and whether or not He is really able to save us. Many listeners will trip over some of the mature word choices (P.O.D. glosses over some of the stronger language, though it's still definitely audible), but it's a part of the band's chillingly successful effort to paint a picture of a broken, searching soul. Some might find it odd to end an album on such a bleak note, but perhaps a question is the perfect place to end this project: "Are You the One who's come to set me free? Cause if You knew who I am, would You really want to die for me?"
P.O.D. offers up a comeback that sounds like they haven't heard that rock and roll is supposed to be dead, and the result is a refreshingly edgy and delightfully aggressive rock album. Four years off the scene would have provided an easy open door for the band to reinvent themselves with a sound that would parallel recent releases in their genre, but P.O.D. doesn't take the easy way out. The album will definitely be instantly recognizable to old fans from Satellite and even When Angels and Serpents Dance days, though it is far from being simply a retread of old ground. Murdered Love builds countless layers both musically and lyrically on the basic 90s nu-metal voice that they have utilized so effectively in the past. With the blend of theologically heavy and more feel-good tracks, this album will appeal to a wide audience and to a fanbase new and old.
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|P.O.D: Murdered Love | Posted July 18, 2012
P.O.D. (Payable on Death) have been around since before I was born, and are celebrating their twentieth anniversary and their eight album, Murdered Love. I first fell in love with the band about six years ago when I heard their song "Goodbye For Now" on iTunes. I listened to that song over and over again, but other than a couple other songs I did not listen a lot to them for some reason. Murdered Love however has changed that about me, and has rekindled my love for the band. There is literally no other band out there like P.O.D, and I have not heard an album like Murdered Love ever before; it reminds me a lot of why I fell in love them to begin with, because it has that same sound they had six years ago when I first heard them. Sonny Sandoval's voice has always intrigued me, which was why it was awesome to see him do a song with Lecrae on Rehab. It has been four years since they released their last album, When Angels & Serpents Dance, and even though it has been that long, Murdered Love was well worth the wait.
The album opens with the sound slowly getting louder on "Eyez," slowly building anticipation for the song. "Eyez" is a very strong way to start the album off; I especially love the intensity and urgency of his voice on the track. The song is used to call out all those who have seen what God can do and has done for us, and yet refuse to accept His love. "Murdered Love" follows that up with another quite intense song, that may be one of my favorites lyrically on the whole album. The song talks about us as humans - the most wretched sinners - killing our Savior. We do no deserve the love he has given us, because we in essence murdered love.
"Higher" became my favorite song on the record after listening to it once. The song is a little more melodic - and less intense - than the rest of the songs, making for a great track here at the beginning of the album. Sandoval says in the song that people can say or do whatever they want to him, but he knows that he is living for eternity, and not just the here and now. I believe the song will become an instant classic.
"Lost in Forever" was the band's first single from the album, and I believe one of the most melodic songs on the album. Most of the album is pretty intense, but this song and the one before it - "Higher" - give a little break early on from the intensity. "West Coast Rock Steady" follows that up with a very fun and energetic song, that I have found is perfect for working out to. The song is really all about the west coast - mainly California - and just celebrating how much fun it is to live there and be from there. I have never been there, but living in a similar place (Florida), I can easily relate to the song. I may or may not change the words to East Coast rock steady in my head. The song is so much fun to listen to, and was instantly one of the best songs on the album to me.
"Beautiful" is one of the more emotional songs on the record that really deals with suicide and self-image issues. Sandoval basically says in the song that life is so beautiful, and so worth living, that it is not worth it to take your life and leave the ones who love you - even if you do not feel loved. Lyrically, it is one of my favorite songs on the album, just because I can hear the honesty in what he is saying. "Babylon the Murderer" picks back up with some high intensity that has a little more of their hispanic sound to it. In fact, the first time I listened to the song it reminded me of how he sounds on Lecrae's track "Children of the Light." It also has more of that raw sound to me as well; I do not know how to describe it other than it just sounds a little more raw to me.
"On Fire" is an interesting track with some sweet guitar work, and some interesting production as well. The song is a call to action that is all about getting us as believers to live for Christ and get rid of all the excess junk in our lives. I love the concept of the song, but at the end of the day it is probably not one of the more memorable tracks on the record - especially compared to a bunch of the others on here. "Bad Boy" stuck out in my head, but maybe not for some of the best reasons. I honestly wish they had left this song off the record. Most of the time, bands have extra songs they do not put on their albums, and I kind of wish they had replaced this with one of those. It has absolutely no spiritual value, and it really does not sound like anything that a Christian band should be singing about. I am not one of those people that thinks that every song has to mention Jesus and be all about spiritual things, but the lyrics to this song kind of rub me the wrong way. For instance, when he says, "I'm looking for a love that's true, not just another ho to do." Was that really necessary?
"Panic & Run" picks back up with a little more hispanic reggae sound that I absolutely love. The song may not be one of the most memorable ones, but it is still a great track to listen to that talks about not listening to all the junk from the media and everything else. There is even some hardcore music at the end of the song that kind of caught me off guard. The album finishes up with a song that I am very much on the fence about. On one hand, I love the song. I love the way it sounds. I love what it talks about. It just sounds great! The chorus is where it breaks down for me. Sandoval says, "But I know this the one and only Son of God, so tell me who the f*** is He?" Now, in all fairness they did sort of bleep out the word, but you can also still tell what he is saying. I have heard Sandoval's explanation for it, and honestly I cannot agree with him. We as Christians are supposed to be set apart and different than those around us - in the world but not of it - and using curse words shows the world that we are just like them. It in no way helps those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ come to know Him, so therefore I am against using curse words in any context. So, it is a great song, but that one little blemish makes me like the song a whole lot less.
Overall, Murdered Love is one of my favorite albums of 2012 so far. It has a sound unlike anything I have heard in a long time, and the intensity of the songs is something that is hard to match as well. P.O.D. never seems to disappoint, and this album has made me a much bigger fan of their music than I ever thought I would be. The band did a spectacular job with the record, and it is one I believe I will be listening to a lot for a very long time. There are a few issues with the album, which is why I cannot give it a perfect score, but as far as sound goes, it does not get any better than this. Murdered Love is a masterpiece that I believe any fan of P.O.D. will love, even if you do not always like all of their stuff.
Favorite Song: Higher
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