After hearing about this new record, it became abundantly clear how much of a long and assorted history P.O.D. and I have had since they hit the scene in early 1991. Before my elitist days destroyed any possibility of listening to music for the sheer novelty of some artists, albums like “Snuff The Punk,” “Brown,” and the bands breakout record, “The Fundamental Elements Of Southtown,” were in my playlist of nu metal/rap-rock; sharing space with bands like Papa Roach, Korn, and (regrettably) Limp Bizkit. P.O.D. never appealed to me for religious reasons, but rather filled a need for solid radio singles over the years. Think I’m nuts? Youtube tracks like “Southtown,” “Alive,” Youth Of A Nation,” and the early-era Katy Perry feature in “Goodbye For Now” in case you forgot; essentially catchy, inoffensive hard rock. But after their preachy lyrics started to break down the accomplishments laid by their previous quality releases and albums like 2008′s “When Angels & Serpents Dance” fell flat, I was curious if they could even remain relevant let alone make a compelling new full-length.
Most fans made their acquaintance with “Murdered Love” when the band released its first single “Lost In Forever,” which is honestly a well structured hit song that is sure to do well on the radio, but real notice should be given when the album starts with the tracks Jamie Jasta-featured”Eyez” and “Murdered Love,” both of which feel reminiscent of the punchy, high arcing bell curve of P.O.D. in their prime. The main single actually found its way on my repeat list a few times.
It wasn’t until I started listening to the up-beat, piano-filled “West Coast Rock Steady,” which is in the same energetic goofy vein of their older song “Rock The Party” and I heard the line “Saints to angels, across the map, done laps around the world but I keep comin back. To the sunshine state where even gangstas skate, with all these California girls how could you not be straight?” that I just got a cringe in my stomach. Being preachy and tunnel-visioned is one thing, but taking passive aggressive jabs at gay people with their “how can you not like girls? what is wrong with these people?” attitude just shows how clueless they are. Even if it’s just Sen Dog from Cypress Hill writing the line, even the inclusion makes their “cool, hip, gangsta” image disappear into a haze of archaic ignorance and general misplaced religious obliviousness. Maybe I’m reading into the lyrics too much, but when a band has past tracks with titles like “Psalm 150,” “Three In The Power Of One,” and “Preach,” all of which freely express their emotions of a higher presence (no qualm with that) with no cheap shots, and then choose to open that box a decade later when there is more tolerance and openness about the subject, you can see how outdated their opinions are as they struggle to understand how their beliefs fall out of relevance. Once again, it’s a lot to pull from one sentence and it is only one song, but with a band that prides themselves on writing meaningful lyrics about their beliefs, anything they write most likely has a message behind it. Those crying foul with my right now, Sonny’s lyrics on “Higher” does soften the edge with the inoffensive line “So you can do what you want and say what you want. Live how you want and die how you want. But this faith has put my mind at ease, souls at peace & my spirit flies free,” so who even knows how he or the band really feels.
Stepping down from my pulpit (ba dump tish), the rest of “Murdered Love” follows the bands alternating formula of rushing rock riffs, squirly solos and funky basslines. Sure tracks like “Murdered Love” and “On Fire“ unceremoniously share a similar sound with Linkin Park and Rage Against The Machine respectively, while on the other hand the slow pacing and smooth fretwork on “Beautiful” shine at what P.O.D. does best, singing uplifting songs that help distraught teens with their angsty problems; with a chorus that belts out, “But life is beautiful, so share a little love with the whole wide world. Every boy and girl sing this song, when we sing why-o, why-o,.”
In the end P.O.D. has never lacked talent; whether it was Sonny’s proficient rapping and reaching vocals, Marcos’ error-free guitar work, Noah’s solid percussion, and the bands funky foundations — bassist Traa Daniels, they have always put their passion into every effort. Ok, maybe not “When Angels & Serpents Dance,” but 7 out of 8 ain’t bad. That being said, “Murdered Love” doesn’t take too many risks and borrows from their already solid formula of efficient rock, but it doesn’t skip a beat and gives us a few funky new songs that we can jam with for a few spins. Plus, the positiveness in Sonny’s unbiased uplifting lyrics (in certain songs) just make this effort. Not sure yet? Check out the ethereal songs “Lost In Forever,” the positive outing “Beautiful” and the soul searching track “Higher” for reasons to pick this up. [Staff]
Score: 3.5 (out of 5)
Release Date: July 10th, 2012
Record Label: Razor & Tie Records
Genre: Hard Rock
RIYL: Papa Roach, Staind, Deftones
2. Murdered Love
4. Lost in Forever (Scream)
5. West Coast Rock Steady
7. Babylon the Murderer
8. On Fire
9. Bad Boy
10. Panic & Run
11. I Am
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