LABEL: RAZOR & TIE RECORDINGS
RELEASE DATE: JULY 10, 2012
The boys from Southtown are back with a new label, a new look, and an old sound that fans have been clamoring for since the release of Satellite. P.O.D.’s newest studio effort Murdered Love, released on their new label home Razor & Tie, is a true return to form for the band. Following up the disappointing 2008 album When Angels & Serpents Dance, this project really was the what I needed to hear from the band. Having heard every album since Snuff The Punk in 1994, I’ve felt that the band got progressively better until 2001’s Satellite. The three that followed—Payable on Death, Testify, and When Angels & Serpents Dance—slowly eroded my faith in their musical prowess and their continued relevance in the rock & roll world. Murdered Love has restored my faith and returned me to ‘Warrior’ status.
“Eyez” leads off the project and rises from the musical darkness into the light and, just like that, P.O.D. is back, Sonny Sandoval rocking the microphone sans dreadlocks. The mix of spiritual undertones and earthbound rock that have made the band so popular in both religious and mainstream circles is fully present—welcoming both and alienating neither.
Title track “Murdered Love” has a superb talk thru style on the choruses that recalls the group’s earliest works like Snuff The Punk and Brown. The instrumentation, especially the fully-controlled guitars and drumming, work quite well with Sandoval’s “Thief on the Cross” petition towards the end of the song.
The stripped down, breezy West Coast vibe of “Beautiful” does a solid job of displaying that P.O.D. can do more than just rock out. They have the uncanny ability to melt your face off with pulverizing guitars and guttural screams as well as the ability to slow things down and make you contemplate the sweeter things in life. A great message about self-image and life’s trials being temporary carries the beat along nicely.
What would a P.O.D. album be without a reference to the ancient city of Babylon, though? Pulling out their signature rasta-mixed-with-rock sensibilities, “Babylon The Murderer” is a little difficult to understand from time to time, but multiple listens allow for a clearer understanding of Sonny Sandoval’s lyrics.
“On Fire” is destined to make mosh pits dangerous for a good four minutes. Moving effortlessly between island sounds (vocals) and good old-fashioned rock (music), this number is P.O.D. doing what it does best.
A couple of misses for me would have to be “Higher” and “West Coast Rock Steady.” Both tracks seemed to throw off the overall mood and flavor of the project. They also felt a bit dated to me. While the latter might have been intended, the former proved problematic for me as part of the listening experience. The tracks themselves aren’t all “bad” per se, but they didn’t seem to “fit.” There is a difference between displaying “variety” and “breaking narrative flow.”
In the end, I think longtime fans of P.O.D.’s sound will find a lot to like about Murdered Love. I hesitate to say that it reaches the creative heights and mainstream viability of 2001’s Satellite, but I’ve had over 10 years with that project and a few scant weeks with Murdered Love. Time will tell if the latter has the staying power of the former. But, for now, the return of Howard Benson to the producer’s chair seems to have injected new life into a band that so many of us have loved over the years. They might even win a few new fans along the way.
NOTE: The mainstream release (& iTunes) contains an 11th track titled “I Am,” and Japanese and European editions feature a 12th bonus track titled “Find A Way” and “Burn Down Rome,” respectively.