After guitarist Marcos Curiel left P.O.D. in 2003, the band never really found a formula that worked for them. They fell off the mainstream map, releasing albums with Jason Truby (formerly of metal act Living Sacrifice) stamped with an odd combination of reggae beats and metal riffs that played out as awkwardly as the combination sounds.
When I showed up to see P.O.D. play at Chicagoâ€™s Hard Rock CafÃ© on Monday night, I knew it was do-or-die for the boys from San Diego. Apparently P.O.D. was aware of the urgency of the moment as well. For 90 minutes, the original lineup (Curiel recently re-joined the group) ripped through a set of old favorites and new songs. The crowd left the show buzzing about the new material. Driving home, I popped the groupâ€™s new disc When Angels and Serpents Dance (out Tuesday 4/8) into my car stereo. Iâ€™ve listened to it five times all the way through in the last two days.
Simply putâ€¦this album is fantastic. The highlight is the return of Marcos Curiel on guitar, who lays down his Santana-meets-metal riffs with a passion from the band since their 2001 smash single Alive. Itâ€™s a return to riff-driven rock, sharing some common ground with the likes of Smashing Pumpkins.
If you loved the P.O.D.â€™s 2001 outing Satelite, this is essentially the follow up album. Now that Iâ€™ve heard the new stuff with Marcos, I understand why P.O.D.â€™s two albums with guitarist Jason Truby just didnâ€™t work out very wellâ€”the guitar parts were too heavy and dark to fit with what the rest of the band does.
P.O.D. began as a down-and-dirty rock band of poor kids playing house parties San Diego, cranking out a mix of party jams and weâ€™re-gonna-make-it anthems. Sixteens years later, theyâ€™ve made the album of their careerâ€¦and itâ€™s packed withâ€¦party jams and weâ€™re-gonna-make-it anthems.
Where the album tries to be radio-rock friendly (â€œCondesending,â€ â€œThis Aint No Oridinary Love Songâ€) it delivers big, sing-along hooks. When it gets heavy (â€œAddicted,â€ â€œGod Forbid,â€ â€œKalfan-Eye-Ayâ€), itâ€™s really heavy. When the songs go chill (â€œRoman Empire,â€ â€œTell Me Why,â€ â€œRise Against,â€) Marcos lays out latin guitar lines over Sonnyâ€™s Marley-tinged lyrics. The guys try only one reggae track (thank goodness) entitled â€œIâ€™ll Be Ready,â€ which fits into the mix well.
Helmetâ€™s Page Hamilton and Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies (both â€˜80â€™s hardcore bands from California) contribute (very heavy) vocals to the album. The Marley Sisters (which I assume are Bobâ€™s dauthers) sing backup on â€œIâ€™ll Be Ready,â€ but you may need the liner notes to notice that theyâ€™re even there.
The boys are back. Hear it for yourself on Tuesday, when the album drops.