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P.O.D — When Angels & Serpents Dance

By Edwin Ortiz
April 18, 2008

P.O.D., though a Christian group at heart, wore the Nu Metal label throughout the new millennium and helped to expand hardcore rock into different avenues. When Angels & Serpents Dance attempts to change that image and try something new.

The album is unique in two ways. For one, it is the band’s first release on Columbia Records, as their deal with Atlantic Records expired two years ago.

Second, and more importantly, it features the return of original guitarist Marcos Curiel. His presence on the band’s major breakthrough album Satellite proved to be a strong asset to their rock sound, and it was disappointing to see him leave at the peak of their career. His replacement, Jason Truby, stayed on for two albums, but never truly grasped the same feel Curiel commanded with the band.

Yet even with Curiel back, it seems P.O.D. chose to take a different route in style. The band stripped away their rock-first warrior mentality to bring about a passionate, non-aggressive style to the forefront.

This is evident in a handful of tracks, but most clearly on “I’ll Be Ready.” Featuring sweet, serenading vocals from the Marley Girls, P.O.D. finds the right groove with a reggae-inspired blend that they have been famous for in the past.

You can hear the pain in Sonny’s lyrics as he touches the streets with his cry for help. “I’m in the fire out here struggling / Rolling down the sunset strip now / Lord it’s getting hot but I’m trying / So please forgive me but I’m hustling on.” In response to the lyrics, Curiel plays a solo that matches up with the theme of the song.

This full sound is something Testify sorely lacked, and it is great to hear they righted their previous mistake on this record. Similar songs include “This Ain’t No Ordinary Love Song” and “Rise Against.”

The most impressive track on When Angels & Serpents Dance is “Shine With Me.” It’s not extremely ear-enticing at first, but it slowly progresses and builds upon a theme of heavenly acceptance that is humbling. The climax of the record comes at the end of the song when Sonny belts out, “So come on and shine with me, like the beautiful star you are / And leave it behind with me, because forever is not that far.”

P.O.D. doesn’t its their composure on songs like “God Forbid” or “Condescending,” but what would have been a well-rounded album suffers from these tracks, easspecially on the former “God Forbid,” where what starts off as a quiet dream immediately screeches into an ear-popping force that will make the listener dizzy with confusion. Sonny also relies on his screaming vocals to get his point across through the whole song, which can’t even be heard over the chords of the melody (if you can call them that).

Through the balance that P.O.D. keeps up during When Angels & Serpents Dance, the album cover’s significance comes more into focus. It’s a balance of power versus will, a difficult aspect we all experience in life. For what it is worth, P.O.D. confronted it the best way they could, and came out the victors.