One of the premier turn-of-the-century rapcore bands, P.O.D. has kept consistently busy during its time in the limelight. The band releases an album every few years, touring in between and attributing all of its success to God, as is the Christian metal way. Even since the notable heyday of The Fundamental Elements of Southtown and Satellite, P.O.D. manages to pop up in commercials, movies and as background music for extreme sports montages on YouTube.
Murdered Love, the band’s eighth full-length studio release, brings more of the same, a heavy, detuned guitar-driven sound combined with elements of hip-hop and alternative, melodic hardcore. The album opens with a fade into the first song, “Eyez,” which immediately establishes the “surrender to the higher power” agenda: “When it all goes down/we will rise/but you ain’t seen/nothing yet.” Sonny Sandoval, the group’s lead vocalist, often speaks his way through verses while singing choruses, as on “Higher.” The high energy of the tracks carries most of them, which have a way of starting softly before blowing into distortion and heavy, plodding guitar riffs accompanied by throaty screaming through the speakers.
A subtle highlight on Murdered Love comes at the halfway point with “Beautiful,” an upbeat rumination on the meaning of life and apathetic tendencies on the parts of young people: “Hey/you’re beautiful/and there’s enough love for the whole wide world.” While the album mostly presents positive imagery through its lyrics, “Beautiful” actually sounds like a happy song rather than a Metallica rhythm track overdubbed with a Christian message. When the track does get heavy, its sound leans more on the side of, say, Lifehouse than Black Flag.
On the second half of the album, the band retracts back to its generally accepted method for producing songs: energy, guitars and sometimes unintelligible, ethereal vocalizations. While there are some catchy moments amidst the madness (the “Stop, drop, ROLL!” chorus of “On Fire” comes to mind), P.O.D.’s lack of growth and experimentation beyond standard nu metal practices generates a mostly forgettable record within a mostly forgettable catalogue from a probably soon-to-be-forgotten band. For the moment, however, if you have always enjoyed what P.O.D. does, Murdered Love fits the bill.