Who would have thought that God’s favorite rap-rock band, a band which sold millions of records during a very short lived trend, had both the courage and the ability to evolve? On their seventh full-length effort, P.O.D. reunite with original guitarist Marcos Curiel (who was ousted from the band in early 2003) and boldy go where they have never gone before. Shedding their nu-metal skin completely, P.O.D. have managed to serve up their most mature, most soulful, and most unique effort to date.
First things first: this is not the same P.O.D. you rocked on your discman in high school. To be blunt, if you are expecting a return to the golden “Satellite” era, you will be sorely disappointed. The hip-hop element has almost dissolved and given way to a much more original sound. Like Linkin Park’s “Minutes To Midnight,” but to a lesser extent, “When Angels & Serpents Dance” shows a band who doesn’t want to remain a relic of a faded genre. Take a few listens to this album with an open mind, and you’re likely to agree that this is the best thing they have done since 2001.
The whole album sounds centered around the return of Curiel, and it’s a welcome breath of fresh air. Marcos’ riffing is what originally defined the band, and he effortlessly carries the band into progression. Songs like “Shine With Me,” “Condescending” and “Rise Against” are his stage and are likely to please even the most jaded of fans. Elsewhere, the band as a whole takes giant leaps towards a new sound. “It Can’t Rain Everyday” is an example of the refined melodic sense the band gained on 2006’s “Testify,” taking P.O.D,’s sound in an unexpected direction. There are all sorts of little surprises like that one peppered through the album. “Roman Empire” is the best instrumental the band has created to date — simply gorgeous. “God Forbid,” which features the voice of Helmet, Page Hamilton, is the grungiest P.O.D. have gone to date, while “Kaliforn-Eye-A” delivers a deliciously decadent blast of hardcore with Suicidal Tendencies’ Mike Muir in tow. Simply put, there’s plenty of variety to be found and not a band song among the bunch.
Sure, this isn’t the P.O.D. you are used to. Yes, it definitely takes a few spins (and some really good speakers) to appreciate, but it’s hardly a disappointment or a step backwards for anyone willing to give it a chance. If anything, P.O.D. have ensured that they have a bold future ahead of them. They have managed to rid themselves of a trendy stigma without giving way to convention. What more could you ask for?