REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/05/2006
Because they are a product of their time, drawing on elements of Rage Against the Machine and Godsmack, it falls to the lyrics and the overall feel of Satellite to carry the weight. This release is what drew most people to the band in their heyday – “Alive” and “Youth of the Nation” had a heavy sound that fit right next to Linkin Park in 2001 but had much less whiny lyrics, and for a brief time P.O.D. was everywhere on the radio.
Most other hard rock bands of the day sang about their critics (Limp), how bad they were treated (Staind) or about how pissed they were (any of them). But nowhere in a rock song could one hear an exuberant chorus of “I...I feel so alive / For the very first time / and I think I can fly,” sung with conviction and without a trace of irony. P.O.D. may be just as heavy as their counterparts but they actually have something to say.
“Youth of the Nation” was a massive hit, and rightly so, mixing social commentary with thunderous drumming and some choice guitar riffs – to his credit, Marcos restrains the power chords and carries the verses with some picking. Had it been just this, it would have been good, but the song is elevated by singer Sonny's conviction and a children's chorus that repeats the song title during the chorus.
If heavy early-2000 riff-rock is your thing, or you grew up in that time period, then this does not disappoint. “Boom,” “Alive” and “Set it Off” all are highlights of the genre, though the title track has the best sound on the disc as well as powerful lyrics, which are an ode to Sonny's mother, who had recently died. Like the rest of the album, it comes off as spiritual and searching, not whiny.
For his part, Sonny has a powerful voice, but unfortunately he decides to rap or speak many of his lyrics, which strips some of the songs of their personality. “Ridiculous” could have been great had Sonny worked more with guest star Eek-a-Mouse, but instead the Jamaican's contribution is more of an afterthought than an integral part of the song, which sounds like 311 cranked up to 11.
P.O.D. has made no bones about being spiritual and/or Christian, and it's refreshing to hear that sort of positive influence on today's depressing, self-hating rap nu-metal. Satellite is a disc that rock fans don't have to be ashamed of owning, and one that Christians could feel good about listening to. To their credit, the band never comes off as preachy or self-serving, choosing instead to comment on society and offer God (Jah) as a solution to those who are hurt.
Unfortunately, the disc starts to run a bit long and tends to sound the same in many places, given the limited capabilities of the genre. “Thinking About Forever” is about the only highlight of the second half of the disc, mixing a moody arena-rock feel with words about love (“Now I know what it means to live for someone else / To give up yourself / Things have changed and times get kind of strange / Love remains the same”). Marcos' flamenco acoustic guitar solo only enhances an already great song.
Satellite hits as many times at it misses, making the hits the reason to purchase this, as the album tracks miss several opportunities to break out of the nu-metal mode, making the second half of the disc particularly unmemorable. But for the six great songs, it's a worthwhile purchase for fans of this genre and those who want some positive messages with their hard rock.