P.O.D.—or to give them their full name, Payable on Death—are believe it are not, a massively popular Christian band. But with some absolutely huge, crunching riffs, plenty of frantic vocals and a positively pounding rhythm section, they thankfully do not resemble Stryper, the last bastions of the Bible to successfully cross over to the rock mainstream.
And cross over to the mainstream they have, because the fact the release of this album was delayed so a week of MTV promotion could be scheduled around it means the kids are, if you’ll pardon the pun, listening to P.O.D. religiously.
Indeed, the intensely powerful, faith-affirming single, “Alive”, has become a staple on MTV thanks to its undeniable melody, and the band’s appearance in Rolling Stone has given them the credibility their long slog to fame has deserved, as well as cementing their popularity,
After making a name for themselves in the underground Christian hard music scene with four albums on various independent labels, P.O.D. signed with Atlantic Records and released their well received major label debut, Fundamental Elements of Southtown. But it was after supporting fellow hardcore favourites Sevendust and Korn and joining the lengthy Ozzfest tour that Atlantic really saw the potential of the band.
Satellite realises that potential in awesome fashion, thanks in part to the studio union with veteran producer Howard Benson. Despite the band’s full name sounding like some dodgy Scandinavian death metal band, Benson has helped mould P.O.D’s hardcore rock, rap and even reggae influences into a radio-friendly, surprisingly melodic collection of songs that manages to convert legions of fans searching for the next Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park.
The pulsating opening track, “Set It Off”, and the excellent, explosive power of “Boom” will undoubtedly follow the aforementioned “Alive” onto regular rotation on MTV, but plenty of other tracks on this album full of varied sounds stand out, preventing P.O.D. from falling into the familiar trap of recording a dozen or so boring and repetitive songs.
The addictive, reggae-inspired “Ridiculous” and “Youth of the Nation” are drowned in atmosphere and attitude, but are a pleasant twist to the by-now-common style of hearing the likes of Fred Durst rap over a predictable wall of sound. The band’s Christianity adds a heavy flavour to the excellent musicianship, and in songs like the title track or “Portrait”, vocalist Sonny’s lyrics provide a thoughtful edge without blatantly being an evangelical vehicle. They certainly make a refreshing change to the regular shock-tactic use of profanity so often heard in this genre.
Both the mighty-sounding “Anything Right” and the title track crank the amps back up once more, whilst the closest P.O.D. get to an acoustic ballad, “Thinking About Forever”, slows the pace down in a way that recalls Staind, but with a much more thought-provoking lyrical message. A couple of instrumental pieces add a further diversity to the proceedings, and apart from the bizarre “Without Yah, Nothin”, it’s easy to enjoy most of the tunes on Satellite.
I fully expected not to enjoy this release, but I won’t be the only one to have their misconceptions quashed by this band that is bold and creative in a way the rock scene has not seen for some time. The fact that the album has shifted well over a million copies already demonstrates that, and as long as their success doesn’t trigger a Stryper reunion, P.O.D. will undoubtedly reach a higher plateau of fame by the end of 2002.
// Notes from the Road
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