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Christian rock quartet returns to old sound

Observer Scene | Thursday, February 16, 2006

P.O.D. is attempting to make a statement in “Testify,” the group’s fourth studio release. The opening track is titled “Roots in Stereo,” and makes the claim that the Christian rap/rock quartet has gone back to the original sound that rewarded them with the success they have today. “Testify” satisfies that goal, but only to a degree.

Recently, hints of reggae have played a factor in making P.O.D. such a distinguished band. Unfortunately, it can only be heard in the opening track and later on in “Strength of My Life.” The album as a whole is consistent for the most part, but that ultimately poses a problem. Before playing through all of the tracks, a listener will likely question whether or not the same songs have played more than once. Even worse, songs like “Goodbye For Now” contain verses and riffs that could be mistaken for something written by Linkin Park. The expansion of the rap/rock genre has, without question, hurt P.O.D. and may potentially play a part in the group’s eventual downfall.

P.O.D. has earned the reputation as an openly spiritual band, and the members have never hesitated to incorporate lyrics dealing with their personal faith. This can especially be seen in the aforementioned “Strength of My Life” (“Take away the scales from my eyes / Anoint your love upon my life”). While no one can blame them for expressing themselves, few listeners will actually take time to notice, and the lyrics often become stale relatively quickly.

This is not to say that there are no bright spots in “Testify.” P.O.D. fans will be sure to find a couple of songs that they like, whether they take the form of the heavy “Say Hello” or the mellow “Let You Down.” Although somewhat generic, the lyrics in “If You Could See Me Now” are still very meaningful (“As long as I can try I’ll make through / But it might take a while to lead me to you”), and go along well with the laid back melody. “Lights Out” is P.O.D.’s latest version of their hit “Boom,” and would make an outstanding fit for any sports highlight reel. The rest of the tracks, however, seem to serve as nothing but filler.

It seems as though P.O.D. is in the middle of what some may call an identity crisis as guitarist Marcos Curiel, one of the founders of the group, was replaced by Jason Truby in 2003. This was shortly before the release of a “Payable on Death” album that left many wondering whether or not P.O.D.’s time was up.

The group has obviously worked hard to revise its sound in a way that will retain listeners. The end result is a head-scratcher – Truby does a solid job, although fans will still miss the likes of Curiel, and the band as a whole gives a commendable effort. This time around, however, it almost sounds like P.O.D. is trying to enter the pop scene and abandon the genre it helped establish.

There is no doubt that P.O.D. has come a long way since its debut album, “Snuff the Punk,” was released in 1994. Any band that manages to remain successful in the music industry for that long deserves a world of credit, but it is only a matter of time before other performers take over the center stage.