P.O.D. fans were shocked early last year when founding member Marcos Curiel departed abruptly after more than a decade of six-string service. Even more stunning was Curiel’s insistence that he was canned for refusing to adhere to the SoCal quartet’s quasi-Christian dogma. This makes it difficult to listen to Payable on Death — the band’s follow-up to its 2001 multiplatinum smash Satellite — without some cynicism. One of Curiel’s accusations was that P.O.D. had adopted a Jesus Christ pose, marketing itself as devout but partying hard behind the scenes. Call it Stryper syndrome. Payable does feel calculated, clearly aimed at households that frown upon secular fare while still appealing to the “spiritual but not religious” masses. Rather than coming across all fire and grimstone, vocalist Sonny Sandoval howls about trials by fire and battling one’s inner demons. Call it Creed’s disease. Like other members of the rock-rap flock, P.O.D. scales back the hip-hop and cranks up the Marshall stacks. Perhaps the group should ask Crazy Town and Papa Roach how well this strategy worked for them. Oh, sure, the trademark ingredients are in place — Penzoil-slick ProTools production, brooding verses that explode into choruses of biblical proportion, and hip-hop and reggae flourishes that never feel organic. But with Payable, P.O.D. commits rock’s ultimate sin — it’s a boring album that’s as stale as day-old communion wafers. Devoted fans are sure to enjoy this pious pap, but the rest of us will be praying for the end.

Categories: Music