P.O.D. lead singer Sonny Sandoval kicks off his group’s second Atlantic Records release, Satellite, with the decree, “Our time has come/ Watch me set it off/ It’s been a while but we back.” With the inspired effort and massive sound Satellite produces, he may be right: P.O.D.’s time may have come.
The group’s first Atlantic release, Fundamental Elements of Southtown, was an inspired, sometimes religiously tinted record that seemed to come out of nowhere. The truth is that P.O.D. had been playing the music-industry game since 1992. Before its explosive first single “Southtown” made its mark on MTV and radio stations, the band released several albums on Rescue Records, including Brown, Snuff The Punk, and Live.
In 1999, shortly before “Southtown” broke the band mainstream, they released an EP entitled Warriors.
On Satellite, it is evident that P.O.D. have given it their all.
Sonically, Satellite is a tight collection of music with guitars reminiscent of Helmet, the Deftones, and the short-lived Handsome. Producer Howard Benson was at the helm of Satellite and enlisted Randy Staub as engineer; the two men provided the album with P.O.D.’s target sound.
Staub had worked with acts such as Metallica in the past and knew how to get the succinct and potent guitar sound that dominates the loud moments of the record. The album is also balanced with relaxed moments, such as the track “Youth Of The Nation,” which was inspired by a school shooting just minutes from P.O.D.’s rehearsal studio.
P.O.D. made their mark on the music world two years ago with a high-energy, highly distorted blend of rock, funk, and rap that pushed the speakers on your stereo to the limit. Satellite is no different. The first track, “Set It Off” does what the title suggests. After a rolling drum beat, guitarist Marcos opens up the album with an explosive blend of guitars, an immediate indication that P.O.D. haven’t toned down its act since the music-buying public last heard from the band.
An ascending chord progression leads into the screams of the chorus: “Rise, let your spirit fly/ Rise, stand up for yourself/ Rise, hold your head up high/ Our time has come/ Set it off.” The track moves with intensity before segueing into the lead single, “Alive”.
“Boom” relies on pitch-shifting the guitars at a fast pace before leading into a Deftones-esque single string riff a la “My Own Summer (Shove It).” The track is melodic but could do without the somewhat goofy “Boom” interjections the band makes throughout the choruses. Sonny’s lyrics fit the song well as he sings, “I never thought that a kid like me/ could take his mic around the world and flash the big S.D./ and rock the masses, from Madrid to Calabassas, Tijuana, Mexico, bootleg demos in Tokyo” over the tight guitars of Marcos.
The somber track “Youth Of The Nation” has guitars that strongly resemble Wes Boreland’s riff on “It’ll Be OK” off Limp Bizkit’s last album, Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water. The track, inspired by a shooting at Santana High School in San Diego, Calif., features a school choir singing, “We are/ we are/ the youth of the nation” while Sonny rhymes lyrics like “Last day of the rest of my life/ I wish I would’ve known/ ’cause I didn’t kiss my mama goodbye,” which attempt to remind everyone that each day is special.
One of the album highlights is “Satellite,” which has a strong melody and spacey chorus. The track begins with a small guitar riff before opening into an expanded version of itself while Sonny sings, “Satellite,” across the riff. When the verse begins, Sonny sings, “I wonder how clear it must look from there to here/ No obstruction, this selfish corruption/ all in this atmosphere.” The space theme and futuristic sounds of this record are represented by the album title and the artwork which depicts P.O.D. on a desolate planet.
Other album highlights include the soft track “Thinking About Forever” and a recording with H.R. from the hardcore band Bad Brains on the track “Without Jah, Nothin’,” which is a cross of straight-ahead punk and reggae.
P.O.D. show on Satellite that it is capable of big guitar sounds and some great melodies. The band has been playing together since ’92, and it’s come a long way, but to become a truly great band, P.O.D. will need more time and effort to become even better on the next release. Nonetheless, Satellite is a solid piece of work that sounds inspired and fresh — two things rock needs right now.