Murdered Love


Razor & Tie, 2012

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


For a brief time around the turn of the millennium, P.O.D. was quite popular. Their aggressive nu-metal sound fit on the radio next to Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, and Korn, and songs like “Alive” and “Youth Of The Nation” are still as well-known by my generation as anything else from the era.

What set Payable On Death apart was the spiritual, positive lyrics; the music sounded angry, but Sonny Sandoval could sing “I feel so alive / For the very first time / And I can’t deny You” without a trace of irony, and we were all OK with that. But then many of the fans (warriors) went away to college, original guitarist Marcos Curiel walked away, and that was about it for the angriest-sounding Christian band on the radio.

As it happened, P.O.D. was far from done, especially when Curiel came back in 2008 for When Angels And Serpents Dance. Four years later, the band dropped Murdered Love, which reunited them with producer Howard Benson, who helmed 2001’s Satellite, considered the group’s commercial and artistic peak. Perhaps working with both Benson and Marcos spurred something in the other three guys, because this is the band’s best work since that album.

Songs like “Higher” and “Lost In Forever” are equal parts aggressive rock and tuneful, swirling choruses. Both have similar lyrical themes about faith and the knowledge of what awaits us after death, even if we don’t quite know what to expect when we get there. Neither here nor in the other tracks does P.O.D. ever hit the listener over the head with their beliefs, for which they deserve credit. The Christian imagery is strongest on the title track, where you can nearly feel the brutal crucifixion and see the blood through Sonny’s words, while the story of “Babylon Is A Murderer” is taken right out of Revelation.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Along with a strong faith is a strong social conscience, and Sonny does not shy away from sympathizing with the suicidal and abused on “Beautiful,” although the track – a simple acoustic ballad – suffers from a disinterested Everclear-esque musical approach that undercuts the seriousness of the lyrics (“Filling up her arms with pretty little lines / She cuts with no intent to kill / This time she didn’t do it but someday she will”). Between the urges of love in that song and the exhortation to “Unite / Never let the dream die!” in “Panic & Run,” it’s clear Sonny is calling us to action, not just empty words.

The band finds time for a bit of biographical fun in “West Coast Rock Steady” and the hard rock of “On Fire,” which name-drops (and sounds a lot like) Rage Against The Machine. “Bad Boy” is one of those rare songs where the male protagonist is asking to meet a good girl – the “kind you take home to meet your mama” – but the references to being a bad boy and the line “gonna make you a freak tonight” send a mixed message; the song as a whole is the reason why some people dislike this band.

“I Am” closes things on a somber note, with Sonny speaking for all the sinners and lost (“I am the secret cutter, porn lover, the town drunkard … The forgotten child ravaged and raped through sex traffic / And since I’m a little strange, my daddy called me a faggot”) before delivering the most controversial line (really) of the song: “I know this is the one and only son of God / But tell me who the f—k is he?” It’s a fairly brutal lyric set to a dramatic hard rock backdrop that comes straight out of 1999’s The Fundamental Elements Of Southtown, and it leaves the listener with an unsettling feeling.

What’s funny is that, when all is said and done, few of the songs will have the listener reaching for the repeat button. P.O.D. is to be commended for tackling serious subjects and calling believers of all faiths to action, but the punk and reggae influences that used to help define the band’s sound have taken a backseat to straight-up hardcore rap-rock, albeit played with heart and even some enthusiasm. Murdered Love won’t win any new Warriors, and seldom does it reach the heights of the band’s past work, but for fans of this band or this style, it’s at least worth a listen or two.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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