CD Review of Testify by P.O.D.
P.O.D.: Testify

Reviewed by R. David Smola


owadays, watching the Headbanger’s Ball on MTV2 requires a DVR or TiVo. Within the 90-120 minutes of programming, there are, on average, three to four videos worth listening to and watching in real time, tops. Most of the songs suffer from horrible vocals. Your thumb starts to develop cramps from fast forwarding through band after band with vocalists who scream at the top of their lungs as if their gonads are trying to escape out their mouths. Alternatively, other songs feature vocal performances as if delivered and mixed by Satan his own bad self. These records are often 50-60 minute endurance tests, where each song sounds exactly like the previous one.

On the other hand, P.O.D. is a band melding a strange collage of influences and a couple of different vocal modes, and their new album, Testify, is an excellent concoction with a little bit of everything to satisfy your appetite. “On The Grind” is a rap track featuring members of the Boo Ya Tribe, while “Strength of My Life” is a reggae-soaked open declaration of the band’s Christian beliefs. Sonny Sandoval sings, raps and offers the occasional guttural scream when necessary thoughout the album. Add the magical production of Glen Ballard (Alanis Morrisette, Dave Matthews Band) and Testify is an early favorite to make my top ten list of 2006.

“Lights Out,” the second track on the album, is your hard rocking anthem with a Rage Against the Machine vibe. Note, Sandoval is a far more diverse vocalist than Zach de la Rocha ever was. “If You Could See Me Now” alternates between a rap delivery and the best singing to date recorded by Sandoval. The song’s arrangement has that Ballard mix, with sound occupying every frequency. Keyboards, strings and some very textured guitar playing by Jason Truby make this song the most accessible ever recorded by P.O.D. The entire record is a triumph for Truby, who demonstrates tremendous range throughout. The former Living Sacrifice guitarist shows off all his chops, whether hammering out heavy riffs in cuts like “Strength of My Life” and “Mark My Words” or adding tremendous texture and complimentary work in songs like “Let You Down” and “This Time”. In 2003, after original guitarist Marcos left in a less than friendly manner, Truby stepped in and performed admirably on Payable on Death. After cutting last year’s EP, The Warriors Volume II with the band, Truby sounds as if he is completely at home on Testify.

If you are looking for a one trick pony, go grab one of those horrible noise experiments in heavy rotation on the Ball. Otherwise, tap into the range that P.O.D. is exploring within a genre that could use some diversity, and Testify, my brother.

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