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Monday, February 27, 2017

P.O.D. -- The Warriors EP, Volume 2


The Warriors EP, Volume 2 comes at a strange time in P.O.D.'s career, and in an interesting time in mine. P.O.D. were now two years removed from 2003's Payable on Death, which proved the band  could make post-Marcos Curiel music that didn't suck...Marcos Curiel being the band's (then) ex-guitarist. Of course, they hadn't really proved they could release an album post-Marcos Curiel that "sounded like P.O.D, " as the band's once very-present latin, punk, and reggae influences seemed marginalized on Payable on Death for a more generic rock sound. After Payable on Death, the band, since that album featuring ex-Living Sacrifice guitarist, Jason Truby, entered a period of writer's block, perhaps stemming from P.O.D. wondering just what they wanted to be. Whatever the case, P.O.D. didn't want their fans to go more than two years without new music, and released an EP to let those fans know just what they had been up to. Perhaps wanting those same fans to know the band hadn't forgotten their roots, they posited the EP as a sequel to their 1998 The Warriors EP from seven years earlier.
The Warriors EP, Volume 2 kicks off with "If It Wasn't for You." the song sees vocalist, Sonny Sandoval, go back to a rap-style delivery in the verses, but the chorus and the song's musicality hearken to more straight-forward rock. "Teachers" continues with this sound, though the vocals, outside of some screaming, are more traditional. However, it is a catchy song, even if it isn't particularly distinctive. "Ya Mama," reimagined on next year's LP, Testify, as "Sounds Like War," is the standout of this opening trio, featuring an aggressive rap in the verse, a soaring, yet ferocious chorus, and then an atmospheric bridge showcasing Truby's strengths as a guitarist. The bridge is further explored in the outro, as Truby gets to put his classical influences on display, albeit slightly amplified. The quiet-loud-dynamic here is excellent, a reminder of the more adventurous dynamics of Curiel's time in the band.
Speaking of Curiel...
"Why Wait," is a classic, upbeat reggae song. It doesn't quite have the soaring mysticism of Curiel's work, but it is a lovely song, nonetheless. P.O.D. keep this reggae feeling flowing with a cover of the classic Payola$ song, "Eyes of a Stranger." I love the original, but P.O.D. really make this song their own. Truby sounds like he is having a blast exploring these textures, and Sonny gives the vocals a passionate reinvention. The result is a dreamy, spaced out translation of the already hypnotic original.

The EP ends with two solid live recordings from Cornerstone, of "Boom" and "Wildfire." "Boom" includes a very cool, sludgy metal intro the band had been playing exclusively live during that era (at least they did it when I saw them in '04).
By the end, it isn't clear what direction P.O.D. are heading after The Warriors EP, Volume 2, but it is clear that they aren't showing any signs of stopping. Also, I got a full-time job at the library (stayed for about the same time Truby stayed in this band), and got engaged and married (still going...) in a seven-month period. Strange times, indeed.

2005 Atlantic
1. If It Wasn't for You 3:40
2. Teachers (Palm Springs Demo) 4:28
3. Ya Mama (Palm Springs Demo) 3:10
4. Why Wait? 3:41
5. Eyes of a Stranger (originally written and performed by Payola$) 4:18
6. Boom (Live at Cornerstone) 5:14
7. Wildfire (Live at Cornerstone) 3:22

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