On Fire: P.O.D.'s Murdered Love
Posted July 10, 2012
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer
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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