October 4, 2001

Metal with a Mind

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Hard rock riffs mixed with hip-hop and punk inspired undertones define P.O.D.’s third major-label release. The San Diego quartet combines everything from reggae to heavy metal to create a sound that reflects their heritage and diverse musical interests. The infusion of varied styles sets them apart from typical radio-dominating rap-metal acts like Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach.

The album’s first single “Alive,” is more straightforward rock than many of the other tracks, a quality magnified by the rap-driven “Boom” and “Set It Off.” These songs feature hip-hop harmonies intertwined with blaring guitars and anthemic metal choruses. Many of the other songs on the CD follow this same formula, using angst-ridden lyrics and heavy rhythms to create a chaotic yet radio-friendly mood. There are, however, darker songs that aim to comment on society and its problems. The eerie “Youth of the Nation,” tells the tale of a young boy gunned down by another student at school, while a choir of children’s voices sings hauntingly in the background.

Slower, ballad-like songs also make appearances on the album. “Thinking About Forever,” laden with acoustic guitars and soft vocals, is a touching dedication to lead singer Sonny Sandoval’s deceased mother. The band’s Christian upbringing is also a recurring theme on Satellite. The album’s title track focuses on living life with the goal of getting into Heaven. “Ghetto” is a love song that laments “If we meet at love we can work it out/ I believe you and I will overcome/ I believe you and I believe in love.” Songs like this, though, are balanced out by lyrics about relationships gone awry, such as the furious screams declaring “You’re so beautiful/ You’re so lovely/ Your interior rusted, I’m so disgusted/ You’re busted” from “Anything Right.”

Jamaican-inspired melodies dominate on “Ridiculous,” which relies heavily on Caribbean beats. “Without Jah, Nothin’,” mixes thrashing punk rock with tranquil reggae. Singing along with Sandoval on this track is ex-Bad Brains frontman H.R. The album does not remain on one style of music for long, though, as quieter tracks are followed with songs such as “Masterpiece Conspiracy,” which is reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine.

Satellite is a diverse collection of songs which incorporates influences ranging from Metallica to Santana. The use of so many different musical styles allows P.O.D to stand out among many of the hard rock bands that are popular today. Their ability to make the transition from more typical headbangers to reggae-metal concoctions within a minute exemplifies that P.O.D. is aiming for more than just widespread radio airplay.

The music they play seems to convey a message about who they are and what they believe. Satellite transcends musical divisions but is able to maintain a true rock and roll sound and attitude, creating an album that is more unique than a lot of the CDs being produced today. Given the plethora of soundalike metal bands fusing their music with hip-hop to rule the mainstream alternative airwaves and the non-teen pop segments on MTV, P.O.D. adds much-needed shade to the genre.

Archived article by Ariel Ronneburger