REVIEW: DROWNING POOL – “Hellelujah”
Time after time, Drowning Pool have had to face harsh times and overcome the darkness. Against the odds they have come out on top each time. A platinum selling metal act with a catalogue that features songs that become, Drowning Pool are gearing up to release their latest album ‘Hellelujah’ on January 22nd, 2016 via their new label eOne Music.
The core trio of guitarist C.J Pierce, bassist Stevie Benton and drummer Mike Luce struggle to disappoint as their unique brand of playing styles harmonize in another great Drowning Pool opener “Push” that more than delivers as an album opener. The trio continue to dominate with the follow up track “By The Blood” (to be the albums second single,) with a suspenseful guitar intro and Pierce‘s trade mark wah-pedal guitar as the song progresses.
With some of metals finest vocalists filling the lead man position over the years including (in backtracking order) Ryan McCombs (SOiL), Jason Jones and the late yet unforgettable original D.P., the role of vocalist for this particular band will always come with big shoes to fill. Currently that position is filled by Jason Moreno of The Suicide Hook. Without doubt Moreno‘s vocals are powerful, and this has allowed him to own Drowning Pool‘s intense catalogue since joining in 2012, as well as performing on ‘Resilience’ with the band in 2013. However, many have felt that he had not been really bringing his own brand to the tracks. Up to this point Moreno could have been anybody! That is until ‘Hellelujah’s’ lead single ‘Hell To Pay’ kicks off and you feel as if the new vocalist has finally arrived. From then on, as each track is delivered one blow after another, the classic trio and Moreno no longer feel like separate entities. Instead, what you get is a full and tight unit you couldn’t squeeze a breeze through. Moreno delivers lyrics in each track like flashing fists to a speed punching bag, as well as using his range to exercise those big choruses. Whether it is the hill-billy delight “We Are The Devil”, the heavy chanting of “Snake Charmer” or the brilliant and single worthy “My Own Way”, from “Hell To Pay” on, ‘Hellelujah’ rises to become one intense metal album in a lot of good ways.
In places, some tracks feel quite influence inspired. “Goddamn Vultures” starts off with a riff a little too similar to KoRn‘s Twisted Transistor but quickly takes a turn back to becoming a signature Drowning Pool track. You are half waiting for the eerily reminiscent riff to peak again but this does not really happen outside seldom and subtle hints. “Another Name” falls into what ninety percent of acoustic tracks by metal bands the last year have fallen into (which is a bit surprising considering the artists at hand), namely another Alice in Chains song that never to made the final cut and with good reason. Musically there is nothing very special happening here and vocally Moreno‘s la la la’s aren’t working. None of which is compensated with lyrics that feel like there is supposed to be some sort of weight or depth behind them, but really amounts to some semi interesting imagery. As was the way with “We Are The Devil”, “Meet the Bullet” has a playful intro. Made up of children singing a more twisted version of a school yard rhyme, this does not do much for the song. Aside from the Static-X styled chorus, the track does not do much for the album, either.
But these are exceptions to the rule. “Sympathy Deleted” puts the album right back on the right track. The sitar sounding layered guitar coolly glides through the intro and verses capped with a chunky mid-tempo chorus doubled timed in the songs final moments bringing it to a good close. Doing exactly what it says on the tin, “Stomping Ground” is mosh-pit ready and for those like-minded who feel rhythm sections aren’t utilized quite as much as they should be, this track is owned by the bands rhythm section, particularly by bassist Stevie Benton. Album closer, “All Saints Day” sees the album finish on a pretty strong note. Not a note that will fall into Drowning Pool‘s top ten or metals fifty finest any time soon, but a pretty heavy, energetic and fun song to end it all on!
Twenty years of Drowning Pool has given the metal scene a lot of good music and a lot of great memories. When you see some of the acts falling apart today and their reasoning why, you do not need to look any further than Drowning Pool to know what overcoming a true obstacle really is. This band has not only defied the odds but has delivered impeccable results each time. Their career has always been, and will probably always be, an uphill battle. But they’ve earned an army to call their loyal fan base over the years. What potentially could have been a one album wonder band, Drowning Pool are here twenty years later still releasing great material! Their latest, ‘Hellelujah’, is more than just a good album, it is a celebration of all that is best in Drowning Pool. It may follow on from a pretty tough catalogue, but it very much solidifies its own place within it.