Reviewed by Susan Lloyd
When Angels and Serpents Dance by P.O.D.
"POD has a knack for mixing in most of California's diverse culture throughout the album featuring West Coast metal sounds... Their mastery of blending styles is probably the most impressive feature of the CD."
San Diego based P.O.D. has been challenging boundaries within the music industry for years, and their latest offering When Angels and Serpents Dance is no exception to their wrecking ball approach to songwriting and performance. The band’s seventh full-length studio album is filled with references to addiction, pain, the tragedy of war, and the ravages of temptation, leaving no stone unturned when it comes to taboo subject matter. And that’s a good thing. This fearless band has been around the block a few times, and their maturity manifests itself spiritually, sonically, and philosophically as they carry listeners through a maze of human experience and emotion as each track unfolds.
CD opener “Addicted” is a no-holds-barred commentary about the binding power of any addiction and the power that escapism has over humanity. Taken out of context, the song may seem to be advocating escapist behavior like drug abuse and self mutilation, but the passionately delivered bridge calls the lure of addiction out as deception. Musically, the song is driven by heavily distorted guitar and Sonny Sandavol’s distinct vocals. It’s a heavy hitting song that may need some “digestion” time on the part of the listener, but it is quality.
Following “Addicted” is the more melodic “Shine With Me”, an invitation to ‘shine with me like the beautiful star you are.” Tight harmonies highlight the vocals, and while the band may surrender to the more melodic sound for a while, it’s not where they will stay as the chant/shout bridge gives a vintage POD sound to the song. “It Can’t Rain Every Day”, another melodic track, begins with a guitar solo that is heavily influenced by California’s Hispanic culture. While more in-your-face songs like “Addicted”, “When Angels and Serpents Dance”, and “Condescending” dominate the track listing and pound out a message with unapologetic bluntness, “It Can’t Rain Every Day” is joined by the plaintive (and strings enhanced) “Tell Me Why” in communicating the power of the message with more finesse than fury.
Long time fans of POD will be happy to hear the warm reggae overtones in “Rise Against” and the straight up Rasta style of “I’ll be Ready”. The latter is hypnotic and draws the listener in to a place where knowledge of one’s impending death isn’t discouraging and is instead a reason to “be ready”. No question that “I’ll be Ready” has heavy Rasta influences, but with a more sound theology backing the lyrics.
POD has a knack for mixing in most of California’s diverse culture throughout the album featuring West Coast metal sounds found on title track “When Angels and Serpents Dance” and gorgeous Hispanic guitar solos that are woven throughout several tracks. There’s even a nod to the distinct style practically trademarked by LA’s Red Hot Chili Peppers in “Kalifan-eye-A”. Amazingly though, the band adheres closely enough to their rock reggae roots that their unique sound is preserved throughout the album. Their mastery of blending styles is probably the most impressive feature of the CD.
I find myself fully involved in most songs on the album as I listen and am impressed with the diversity that doesn’t stray so far to the edges that unity is lost. There is power and impact in the honesty delivery of subject matter, and musically there are few bands who are able to have this kind of credibility and respect built up in both the Christian and mainstream markets. My hat’s off to P.O. D. for making a brilliant album that is worthy of all the critical acclaim it will receive. My hope is that critical acclaim and fan support will keep this band producing music for years to come. They are one of the most unique and musically solid bands producing music today, and I have no reservations recommending When Angels and Serpents Dance to even the most discriminating music fans around.
Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com