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Friday, March 10, 2017

P.O.D. -- The Awakening


Did you know that P.O.D. released a new album in 2015? If my wife wasn't a P.O.D. fanatic, I'm not sure I would. No one publicized it. All the attention the band received for their 2012 release, Murdered Love, was nowhere to be found. Maybe Sonny should have swore again. Whatever the case for the obscure nature of the release, P.O.D. released a new full-length album in 2015, and it is called The Awakening.
The Awakening is a concept album, a first for P.O.D. It incorporates many of the diverse genres the band have showcased in their hard rock sound for decades now: metal, punk, latin, hip-hop and reggae. This time, the band even take a stab at fusing some jazz to their sound, on album standout, "Want It All." The songwriting here is some of the strongest of the band's career, and the genre-jumping flows more naturally than ever before. However, where The Awakening falters is in the "concept" area. The story itself isn't bad, your basic "guy with issues works out those issues painfully" story, until he experiences the titular "Awakening." The telling features 90's-esque theatricality with voice actors and Foley artists hard at work. If these story interludes were given their own tracks, they'd serve their role without offense...however, they aren't given their own tracks. At points, the listener has to sit through two minutes of dialogue before a song starts. This can't be skipped with one tap of a button--they are a part of the songs themselves. This is a major blunder, but the music on display here is so good, I can't dip The Awakening below an 8/10. I feel like a younger version of P.O.D. may have been talked out of blending the "skits" with the songs here, but these veterans went with their gut. It might not have been the best decision, but The Awakening is still a winner.
I saw P.O.D. perform at The Varsity Theatre in support of this album, and they put on as good a show as ever, even if the crowd was smaller than it used to be. Even The Awakening's highly non-specific lead single, "This Goes Out to You," the one song on the album I wasn't so sure about, worked wonderfully--live it comes off as a love letter to the band's fans, and gives The Awakening itself more meaning. My favorite moment of that particular concert, though, came courtesy of some local college kids, who sadly admitted, "Nobody really puts on a performance like this anymore. We saw _____ the other day, and they just stood in front of their laptops." Indeed.

2015 Universal/T-Boy
1. Am I Awake 5:56
2. This Goes Out to You 3:50
3. Rise of NWO 3:12
4. Criminal Conversations (featuring Maria Brink) 5:02
5. Somebody's Trying to Kill Me 5:12
6. Get Down 3:39
7. Speed Demon 3:51
8. Want It All 3:33
9. RevoluciĆ³n (featuring Lou Koller) 4:05
10. The Awakening 7:04


Azure Ides-Grey said...

Not sure if I just forgot about this one or if I've never seen it ... the album cover doesn't look very P.O.D. either way, if that makes sense. After going through your reviews, I realized I like the self-titled the most out of the work I've acquainted myself with. As you noted, Payable On Death goes for the straightforward hard rock sound while albums like Satellite had more reggae and hip-hop ... I guess I've never had that much a taste for reggae, though I do like some hip-hop, but for whatever reason I like Sonny's singing/screaming/yelling better than his rhymes (save for On The Grind). Curious, are you familiar with Sonny Sandoval's look alike/indigenous hip-hop extraordinaire, Redcloud? He had some great stuff back in the day (e.g. his song Battlestar Galactic).

Nicholas said...

Awakening certainly has the most generic/non-specific cover of any P.O.D. album.
Your reasoning for liking the self-titled album the best is definitely sound--in fact, some one could write an entire counter-argument to my reviews,stating that P.O.D. have a hard time nailing down a specific sound, and only do it on Payable On Death--making the self-title apt!
I've never heard of Redcloud. I will have to check him out (If that song references the show, all the better!)!

Azure Ides-Grey said...

That's interesting you say that, as I hadn't exactly thought of P.O.D. as a "too eclectic" band before. If you check out Redcloud, I'd be curious to hear what you think! Very underground and different (music video looks homemade, haha).

Nicholas said...

Ah, I remember this dude! When I DJ'd in college and hosted the Christian Rock show, Syntax sent us Is This Thing On? The album cover was really DIY looking, so I wasn't too psyched about listening to it, but when I finally checked it out, I was impressed (also, I think he did a song on there with Christafari, speaking of reggae!). Obviously, I completely forgot about him, though. Nice to see he is still making music!