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P.O.D-Albumv2.jpg On their new release, “When Angels and Serpents Dance,” P.O.D. is in a tight spot: they’ve got a lot of people to please, and whatever they do is gonna piss somebody off.
Having achieved a huge degree of success in the Christian rock ghetto and pop-culture platforms like Ozzfest and MTV, P.O.D. crossed a lot of boundaries, and so have fans in a lot of camps – angry teenagers, rap-metal dudes, youth pastors. In the past they’ve managed to do most of the things you’re supposed to do to get Christian rock fans to disown your band real quick: they don’t use the name “God” all that often—in fact, they call Him – gasp – “Jah!” They’ve toured with eeevil bands like Korn. They had a public breakup with guitarist Marcos Curiel (now back in the band), who then accused the band of acting “all holy and s–t.”
Still, once a Christian band always a Christian band, and a new dual record deal finds P.O.D. selling albums via Columbia as well as Christian INO. There are predictable controversies surrounding this album, like guest spots from members of secular bands Helmet and Suicidal Tendencies, one of whom swears on a song! At times, the band’s spirituality is vague, like when frontman Sonny Sandoval sings: “My love is like la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la.” What? Kids who just wanna mosh won’t dig the Chicken Soup for the Rocker’s Soul of “It Can’t Rain Everyday” or the folk-protest of “Tell Me Why,” and even Christian Music Today bemoans the band’s loss of “ferocity.” Nobody’s happy.


On the other hand, a band that’s willing to piss so many people off must be doing something right for the sake of their own vision. It’s the non-hardcore rock songs on “Angels and Serpents” that feel more convincing. The re-addition of Curiel to the band adds a jolt of energy and intrigue–the instrumental track “Roman Empire” is mostly just his Latin guitar licks and a spooky voice whispering “Emperio Romano,” but it works. The lazy reggae jam “I’ll Be Ready” slinks around its groove with ease and spiritual zeal. And for a band that plays Christian youth rallies to record a song that actually includes the lyrics “no war?” That’s gutsy.
Final verdict: Burn it to a disc, but you might want to create two separate playlists to divide the smoother stuff from the rock and to edit out anything that pisses you off.
–written by Joel Hartse

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