red lights


Back on track

P.O.D. - Testify
(Atlantic Records)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Mar. 12, 2006

Review by Andy Argyrakis

Even though P.O.D. never took an extended break from pumping out its back breaking blend of hardcore, reggae and alternative rock, this current period can be considered a comeback of sorts. Though the group was red hot throughout the late 1990s/early 2000s after making the major label leap to Atlantic Records, the foursome's last album (2003's Payable On Death) didn't go over so well. The main problem with that project was the band's abandonment of its heaviest yet hit friendly roots in favor of a more experimental, somewhat low key album that was filled with its fair share of pretentiousness. But come 2006's Testify, both the gang's die-hard fan base (known as The Warriors) and even those less rapid will be happy to find a return to rollicking form.

The disc opens like a war zone of guitars and drums that sound like gun blasts as "Roots In Stereo" kicks into gear with the grit of singer Sonny Sandoval. Well, maybe "singer" isn't the most appropriate term given that "screamer" would make a more accurate fit, but no matter what the terminology, that track and its follow-up "Lights Out" signal P.O.D.'s return to its intensity inundated old tricks. Controlled chaos also permeates throughout "Say Hello" and "Mistakes & Glories," turning up the amps so high it could very well match the players' early 90s indie outpourings. But it's not all just shouts and string slams as the quintet also hints at melodic possibilities, turning in the semi-acoustic ballad "Goodbye For Now" and the harmony hiked (though a bit too thickly produced) "This Time."

Reggae also reappears in the fold on "Strength of My Life," which features guest vocals by relative newcomer/rapper Matisyahu. The tune is straddled with religious references often present in each act's music, while also rippling with obvious Bob Marley influences. And speaking of spirituality, faithful need not fear that P.O.D. has abandoned its Christian roots. Those messages remain mighty, though perhaps not as overt, but nonetheless convey cultural pertinence minus any preachy linguistics. So with all of those elements working to the guys' advantage, plus a little help from the man upstairs, Testify has taken them beyond a temporary derailing and unequivocally back on track.

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