Review by Chris Lockett: It’s been four years since Christian Nu-Metal band P.O.D. released their last album, and now, having dealt with an uncertain future, the band is back with its original lineup, and set to release their eighth studio album Murdered Love. The band has garnered a reputation as being very hit or miss, and the general consensus on their last two studio albums is that they were lackluster to say the least. But with the odds seemingly against them, has P.O.D. been able to craft a listenable album, or should the band have just quit while they were ahead? Hit the jump to find out.
The success of P.O.D. has always, and will always come down to one man, frontman Sonny Sandoval. Because P.O.D. is a Christian band, their lyrics tend to tread the line between dramatic and cheesy. It’s a very fine line to tread, and unfortunately there has been many an instance where Sonny’s lyrics have fallen into the latter category. However, I am happy to report that, (for the most part), this album manages to be very deep and emotional without falling into “I feel so alive/ For the very first time/ And I think I can fly” territory. BUT, what I’m unhappy to report is that the album has a couple of other issues, issues which hold it back from being great.
The first song on the album is “Eyez”, (which features Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta on background vocals). The song is an excellent way to start things off, and also serves as a very good taste of what can be expected from the album as a whole. Unfortunately, however, “Eyez” is followed by the album’s second single and title track “Murdered Love”, which features hip-hop artist Sick Jacken during the chorus. The song contains an awesomely creepy opening riff, but then gets immediately obliterated as soon as Sonny opens his mouth for the first verse. I honestly can’t fathom what exactly was going through his mind when he decided to style the lyrics like a butchered mess, but for whatever his reasons, he has chosen to destroy the song by pausing after every syllable in every word. For instance, the first verse goes like this: “The death sen.tence/ Cap.it.al pun.ish.ment/ Give to blood.shed/ con.vict the inn.o.cent.” My best guess is that he was trying for some weird Reggae rap and failed miserably. But that’s just trying to make sense of insanity. Tack on Sick Jacken’s mind-blowingly annoying vocals during the chorus, (which sound something like the offspring of Stephen Hawking’s voice machine and a retarded five year old), as he repeats the line “The day that they murdered/ Day that they murdered/ Day that they murdered” over and over again, and you have what might be one of the most annoying songs of the year.
As I carried on listening to the rest of the album, I started to notice a bit of a pattern that was started with the first two tracks. For every good song on the album, there seemed to be a bad one to cancel it out. This is a shame because the album features some of the best material that the band has ever written. I fear that songs like the epic, synth-heavy first single “Lost In Forever”, or the absolutely astonishing “Babylon The Murderer”, (the latter of which might just be the best song of P.O.D.’s career), will be overlooked due to songs like the impossibly stupid, lyrical shit fest that is “Bad Boy”, or the overly sentimental ball of cheese that is “Beautiful”.
Another problem with the album is that it struggles at maintaining a consistent tone. Throughout most of the album there is a heavy tone both musically and lyrically. Almost all of the songs have to do with God, contemplating your existence, the end of the world, the fall of Babylon, etc. But every now and then the band throws a curveball, and instead of it being a pleasant surprise, the curveball ends up taking the form of songs like the aforementioned “Bad Boy”, or the Reggae influenced party song “West Coast Rock Steady” (which features Sen Dog from Cypress Hill on background vocals). And what makes “Rock Steady” all the more disappointing is that fact that it’s actually a good song, featuring catchy melodies and a funky bass. The problem is that it stands out like a sore thumb on an album with such a serious tone throughout.
Production wise, “Murdered Love” is top notch. Producer Howard Benson is able to take the album one song at a time and given each one the love and care that they deserve (or in the case of “Bad Boy”, DON’T deserve). Some of the tracks are clean and polished, while others are raw and gritty. Some feature synths and sound effects (“Babylon The Murderer” has the sound of thunder and gun shots), while others are completely devoid of any effects at all. You can tell that a lot of time and effort was put into the production of each and every song on the album, and it makes the album so much better than it probably would have been otherwise.
The Final Line: With Murdered Love, P.O.D. have returned to the music scene with a mixed bag of an album. On one hand there are some excellent songs here. But on the other hand there are some truly awful songs. To top it all off the album struggles in finding a consistent tone. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad album, not even close. It is just a flawed one that had the potential to be so much more.