Long a mainstay in the underground ghetto of Christian rap-core, P.O.D. (which stands for Payable On Death) made some sizable waves with 1999's The Fundamental Elements of Southtown, waves that look mighty puny compared to the tsunami of Satellite, their latest release. Their first single, the anthemic, energetic "Alive", has more than paid off their collective mortgages. For those unfamiliar with P.O.D., this song is a good example of the groove-laced, hard rock-based songs on Satellite. Those who've followed the heavy, infectious rhythms of this band will find them departing somewhat from past albums, incorporating more melodies and actual singing (as opposed to rapping and/or screaming). The more gray hairs congregate on my scalp, the more I'm thinking this is a good thing.
Of the fifteen tracks on this lengthy release, a number of them seem primed for the radio while still retaining enough musical meat to keep the term "sell-out" at arms length. "Thinking About Forever" opens with a dizzying guitar melody and rapped lyrics before the heavily harmonied chorus and tantalizing melody steal the show. With "Set It Off" longtime fans will find the expected heavy guitar rhythms, shrieking vocals mixed with rap, and enough angst for even the most jaded whippersnapper. While "Youth Of The Nation" is the be their next single, I personally find the inclusion of a children's choir a bit corny and find myself unable to keep myself from thinking of Alice Cooper's self-deprecating "Department of Youth." A couple of the tracks, such as "Ridiculous" incorporate reggae into the mix, which actually works better than one might expect. Aside from the aforementioned choir and strings on "Anything Right", the production is more stripped down and crisp than on past albums. Just guitar, drums, bass, and vocals, all played by hands tempered by years of experience. There is enough variety in styles and sounds to keep your attention, assuming you don't mind many of your styles being overtly heavy.
Lyrically P.O.D. is not as "in-your-face" as many Christian metal bands. You won't find any Styperish cheese here, just positive lyrics that allow the listener to interpret them with a spiritual bent or to take them at face value… a pinch or two more "explicit" than Creed but nothing even remotely heavy handed. While the music is the kind of hyper-aggressive, rap-inflected rock that many under the age of majority are currently embracing, the encouraging, intelligent, proactive lyrics are a nice change from the "I hate everyone because you all suck" lyrics so prevalent in much of today's music.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, January 2002.