P.O.D. – The Awakening (Album Review)

P.O.D. – The Awakening (Album Review)


The “positive vibe” Rock band, Payable on Death, better known as P.O.D., burst on the scene in 1991 out of the melting pot that is San Diego, California in Marcos Curiel’s and Wuv Bernardo’s garages.  Then, they were just guitarist and drums under the name Eschatos, where they did cover songs for keggers.  Thereafter, Bernardo’s cousin, Sonny Sandoval, joined the band on vocals after a tragedy and converting to Christianity. Gabe Portillo soon followed on bass, they changed their name to P.O.D., and the rest, as they say, is history. With music trends of the day such as Punk Rock, Indie Rock, and Hip Hop alongside bands like Bob Marley, Santana, and U2, P.O.D. took those influences, melding them together to make their own sound as well as injecting doses of Jazz and Latin with their natural love of music as a whole.

Growing and changing personally, Traa Daniels replaced Portillo on bass after submitting a demo, and the group signed on to Rescue Records. After passing on one label, Atlantic Records called after seeing an exuberant performance at The Roxy and the band was signed. Making a transition between labels, in 1998, The Warriors EP made a big impression, and in the Summer of 1999, the doors were blown wide open with The Fundamental Elements of Southtown. Marking the band’s first record to go platinum, it was only the beginning. In 2001, triple platinum Satellite broke P.O.D. into massive Rock stardom with the wildly huge singles “School of Hard Knocks,” “Alive,” and “Youth of a Nation,” which played prominently on MTV and MTV2, as well as garnered Grammy nominations for both the 2002 and 2003 award seasons. After six more studio albums, two live albums, a compilation and video album, another EP, countless singles, and a couple of lineup changes that has brought the group full circle, P.O.D. and long-time producer Howard Benson (The Fundamental Elements of Southtown and Satellite) have joined forces to release the band’s ninth studio album, The Awakening, via Universal Records August 21st.

Looking to try something new, The Awakening is a 10-track concept album that tells the story of a man named Tim transitioning after a huge tragedy to come out on the other side.  In the beginning, the question is asked, “Am I Awake?”  Voice overs accompany a hard stroked bass riff from Daniels, as the melody settles, supported by Bernardo’s drums as Sandoval’s vocals cry out incredulity as he tries to wrap his head around what is happened to him with the lyrics, “Am I awake/or is this just a dream?/I’m not the same/since you went away.”  Next, “This Goes Out to You,” a bass Funk-filled track that turns into a riff-laden, fist-pumping anthemic piece with Sandoval singing, “You’re my one foundation/a higher elevation,” even as the song ends with Tim doubting his resilience.

Continuing the story, “Rise of NWO” is an extremely hard, chaotic Metal/Hip Hop track complete with screechy riffs, bomb sound bites, and voice-overs as the guys warn of the coming of the New World Order, “Are you ready for the rise/of the New World Order?”  As Tim sinks lower into darkness, “Criminal Conversations” begins.  This track features In This Moment’s Maria Brink, which begins with a conversation between Tim and his married girl on the down low that gives way to a dreamy melody like a drug-induced dream.  As paranoia sets in, Tim yells, “Somebody’s Trying to Kill Me,” as dark riffs of Curiel kick and go through…seeming to get darker as the track continues while an electronic devil voice taunts in the background.  All of Tim’s excesses are eating at him in the Metal/Funk/Hip Hop flavored “Get Down” as the guitars whine to thudding drums while Sandoval sings, “Down/get down/nobody move/nobody make a sound.”  Then Tim’s speeding toward bottom in “Speed Demon,” a track that begins with him stealing a car as the guitars cut in with hyper drums and featuring a real urgency with a Punk/Slam Dance vibe.

Moving along in the story, posting bail, Tim skips town in “Want It All,” a simple; yet, layered dreamy, Santana-esque, Jazzy piece that is the turning point in the tale.  Air raid sirens and yelling bring in “Revolución,” which features Sick of it All’s Lou Koller, in this Speed Metal/Punk/Reggae hybrid that Tim learns there is something bigger than him as conveyed in the lyrics, “Beware of the sly and shifty words of the liar/and make sure with who you stand with one match/you have alliance…”  Redemption brings the final song, “The Awakening,” a massive power ballad with the telling words sung, “My eyes are open/to this great awakening.”

Like classic concept albums such as The Who’s Tommy (1969) and Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979), P.O.D. swung for the fence with The Awakening. It is sure be considered one of their best records to date and it will resonate with listeners now and for generations to come. It is not often band’s attempt to follow a concept with an album nowadays, and P.O.D. boldly do so successfully. CrypticRock gives The Awakening 5 out of 5 stars.


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Jason Rhode
[email protected]

Jason, a Horror and Children Story writer and artist specializing in alternative art, was adopted from the Bronx, NY, and currently lives in Midland, TX with his wife, Joey, and their two dogs, Chewy and Hollywood.

  • Brad S
    Posted at 23:22h, 17 August Reply

    Good review.

  • Mike
    Posted at 04:34h, 08 October Reply

    Not a single negative thing to say on an album that is considered by even POD fans to be mostly ‘meh’? Doesn’t seem like a very objective review.

  • Neil
    Posted at 01:59h, 05 August Reply

    Im a big fan for many years now, but this album is LAME!

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