Veteran rock band Payable on Death (P.O.D.) returns with its 10th full-length studio recording Circles next month. The 11-song offering is the band’s first for its new label home, Mascot Records, and is overall, another strong effort from the San Diego, California-based band. That is evidenced through its musical and lyrical content, which offers plenty for the band’s more seasoned fans and its new fans alike to appreciate. The album’s lead single and album opener ‘Rockin’ With The Best’ is just one of the compositions that supports that statement, and will be discussed shortly. ‘Fly Away,’ which serves as the record’s midpoint, is another clear example of what makes Circles another interesting offering from P.O.D. It will be discussed a little bit later. ‘Soundboy Killa’ is one more example of what makes this record interesting. It will also be discussed later. When this trio of songs is considered along with the deeply contemplative ‘Dreaming,’ the equally powerful ‘Panic Attack’ and the band’s tribute to its home town, ‘Always Southern California’ and the rest of the album’s featured works, the record in whole proves to be another welcome offering from P.O.D. and a strong start for the band on its new label home.
P.O.D.’s forthcoming album Circles is another welcome effort from the veteran rap/rock band, and a strong start for the band at its new label home, Mascot Records. It offers plenty for the band’s most seasoned fans and its newer audiences alike to appreciate both musically and lyrically. This is proven in part through the record’s opener and lead single, ‘Rockin’ With The Best.’ In regards to its musical content, the song is classic P.O.D. that takes listeners back to the band’s 1999 major label debut The Fundamental Elements of Southtown. That is especially evident in the guitar riff and drums exhibited in the song’s chorus. When they couple with front man Sonny Sandoval’s vocal delivery, the combination of those elements, and the song’s bass line, the whole creates that familiar, infectious sound. The more contemplative sound of the verses makes Sandovals confident statements all the more powerful. When it couples with that harder-edged sound in the chorus, the end result is a composition that is certain to become a fan favorite if it has not already done so.
The juxtaposition of the song’s contemplative verses and its more energetic chorus partners well with the song’s lyrical content, which comes across as its own sort of battle rap, courtesy of Sandoval. Sandoval writes in the lead verse, “Let us begin/What, where, why or when/I take offense to pussycats hangin’ in the lion’s den/All trends, 2nd hand versions/A knock off imitation, my ace in the wind/I remember when/When this music meant something/And these rappers weren’t frontin’, but now they’re all bluffing/Not about nothing/No resume and no dues/Nobody heard KRS/He was speaking to you/”In about 4 seconds, a teacher will begin to speak”/So take it from me/All I need is a bass line/Feedback from a guitar and I’ll dead ‘em all with one rhyme.” Sandoval leaves little to guess here. He is addressing the current crop of young rappers who he says have done nothing to get to where they are. He continues to make his case in the song’s second verse, explaining to listeners, “Everybody and they mommy know who cold rocks the party” along with plenty more verbage. The whole of the verses, and of course the chorus, in which he and his band mates state, “Now you’re rockin’ with the best,” makes the song a strong start for this record. It shows a battle rap doesn’t have to drop names and make personal attacks in order to make a confident statement. When this is considered along with the song’s equally well thought out musical arrangement, the whole of the song proves a clear example of what makes Circles another positive effort from P.O.D. It is of course just one of the songs that serves this purpose. The far more contemplative ‘Fly Away’ is another example of Circles’ positive presentation.
‘Fly Away’ is another key addition to Circles because it is powerful through a far more reserved musical and lyrical approach. Musically speaking, the song will appeal to fans of 311, Sublime, Sugar Ray and other similar acts through its reggae-rock hybrid sound. What is really interesting here is that the arrangement alone is infectious. There is no denying this. When it is coupled with the song’s deeply moving lyrical theme, that infectious sound creates a whole new identity for the arrangement; an identity that will easily tug at listeners’ heart strings. The lyrical theme is one of someone going through a difficult situation and just wants to get to a better place. Sandoval writes here from that person’s perspective, “So who are you to say what life is like/That life is good/I bet whoever said it never walked up in my hood/So, I wish you would/And maybe you should/You should discover what is missing/Since you misunderstood/Time and time again/They keep messing with my head/So I cannot lie/I-man go mess up now and then/Don’t’ know the why yet, still I try to find my way/I asked the preacher man to show me how to pray/And so I say/If I could fly away, I would fly away/I will fly away, oh glory!” He goes on in the song’s second verse to note that as bad as things get, “We’re all the same/Whether it’s love, whether it’s pain/Even the preacher man forgets how to pray some days.” In other words, we all lose sight of the bigger picture in life, and we have to remind ourselves that things could be worse. That gentle reminder, coupled with the equally gentle musical arrangement here makes this song so powerful in its own unique way. In turn, the whole of those elements makes the song one of the record’s most important entries, though not the last of its most important elements. ‘Soundboy Killa’ is another important addition to the album.
‘Soundboy Killa’ stands out in part because of its musical arrangement, just as with the other songs noted here. Sandoval’s vocal delivery, joined with the work of his band mates – guitarist Marcos Curiel, bassist Traa Daniels and drummer Wuv – creates a sound that will appeal to fans of Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave and other similar acts. Lyrically, this song is somewhat similar to ‘Rockin’ With The Best.’ That is evidenced as Sandoval raps over his band mates’ lines, “Same mic/Same Stage/I&I was born to rage/And there might be another dead boy pwon page!/These copy cats come to steal me cup/Dem ain’t real enough/Another big tune, wheel it up!/Sonny Dread number 1 Champion/Cuz you know I breaks it down in a style & fashion/So keep it moshin’ ‘cause I’m comin’ for ya neck/And every mon hit the deck when you hear me sound check.” From here, Sandoval barely lets up if it all, reminding critics and others that the song’s subject is not letting up. The message is one of pure confidence, reminding listeners that the subject’s work is basically audio ammunition that he will keep firing, no matter what. It’s a strong statement that is strengthened even more by the song’s infectious musical arrangement. When the two are coupled, they make the song one more work that is certain to be a fan favorite, and one more example of what makes Circles in whole another welcome offering from P.O.D. What’s more the song, when considered with the other works discussed here and the rest of the album, the whole proves the record to be a strong start for the band at its new label home.
P.O.D’s latest full-length album Circles, due out Nov. 16 via Mascot Records, is a strong new start for the band at its new label home and another welcome offering from the veteran rap rock outfit. That is evidenced through the record’s musical arrangements and its lyrical themes, as has been discussed through the songs discussed in this review. When they are considered along with the likes of ‘Dreaming,’ ‘Panic Attack,’ ‘Always Southern California’ and the rest of the record’s entries, the album in whole is an offering that the band’s more seasoned listeners will appreciate just as much as newer audiences. The band will launch a tour in support of Circles beginning Nov. 3 at the Halloween Rock Fest 2018 in San Juan Puerto Rico. More information on that tour, the band’s album and more is available online now at:
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