Monday, August 26, 2013

Drowning Pool - Resilience (Deluxe Edition)

Drowning Pool
Resilience (Deluxe Edition)
Eleven Seven Music

Despite a career that spans more than a decade, Dallas (Texas, U.S.) based outfit Drowning Pool are most likely remembered by most as a band that can’t seem to hold onto a vocalist for any real length of time. So it comes as no real surprise to find that on the band’s fifth and latest full-length release ‘Resilience’, Drowning Pool (Who comprise of guitarist/backing vocalist C.J. Pierce, bassist/backing vocalist Stevie Benton and drummer/backing vocalist Mike Luce) are once again introducing a new front man. This time around it’s The Suicide Hook front man Jasen Moreno, who took over from Ryan McCombs, who left the band in late 2011 after fronting the band for two albums (2007’s ‘Full Circle’ and 2010’s ‘Drowning Pool’) to reunite with his old band Soil. It’s no secret that most fans of the band still hold their 2001 debut effort ‘Sinner’ as the benchmark on which each new album is judged against, and the album’s vocalist Dave Williams (Who passed away in 2002) as practically irreplaceable. But despite this, the three remaining members remain as persistent as ever, and as mark of this, have named their album with the fitting title of ‘Resilience’.
Putting aside the band’s past for the sake of taking in Drowning Pool’s album for what it is, I have to admit that when the band do get things right, it’s not all that bad. And a perfect example of this can be found with the opening track ‘Anytime Anyplace’. If you were to be critical, it could be said that on the musical side of things, Drowning Pool haven’t really progressed much beyond the sound of their debut. The band still churns out a mix of groove/alternative metal with a hard rock/metal influence, all the while keeping things simple and likeable. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Musically, ‘Anytime Anyplace’ is an extremely likeable tune, with just the right amount of diverse and densely layered passages dotted throughout to get the masses moving when it’s played live. But sometimes the sticking point is the vocals that are laid on top. But in this instance, Drowning Pool seems to have found the right man in Moreno, who not only has a great rock voice, but a range wide enough to add a bit more character into the song. And unless you have something to say musically, it’s the vocalist who really sells the song. The follow-up track ‘Die For Nothing’ is another solid track that seems custom made for a live audience with its catchy sing along choruses, while Pierce gets the opportunity to show off a little more on the guitar front – which isn’t a bad thing.
Unfortunately, not everything works for Drowning Pool here. ‘One Finger And A Fist’ is a big dumb rock song that’s marred heavily by its cliché macho lyrics and overuse of gang vocals. Yes, it’s a catchy song, but it really doesn’t have a lot to say beyond what’s yelled in the choruses. The same can be said for ‘Saturday Night’, which is pretty much a party anthem. Sure, it has a lot of energy, and Moreno sings up a storm on the track – but it’s fairly unfulfilling when stacked up against some stronger efforts towards the tail end of the album.
‘Digging These Holes’ is an interesting effort in that Moreno proves just how talented he is on the vocal front, while the hard hitting ‘Low Crawl’ is an interesting foray into the band’s grunge rock sound, with some of the vocals in the breakdowns bringing to mind Alice In Chains (Even if only briefly).
Songs such as ‘Broken Again’, the mid-paced ‘Understand’ and the anthem-like ‘Bleed For You’ are solid enough tracks towards the tail end of the album, but it’s ‘Life Of Misery’ and the closer ‘Skip To The End’ where the band really shine – both on the song writing front and with Moreno’s own vocal performance.
The deluxe edition of ‘Resilience’ comes with an additional two tracks, with the first coming in the form of ‘In Memory Of...’ - the album's first single, which was initially released as a tribute to Williams on the tenth anniversary of his passing away in August 2012. This is hands down the best song on the album. It’s no surprise that it was chosen as the first single from the album.
The other bonus track is ‘Blindfold’ which is another great track full of energy and aggression, and a great chorus that boasts some great screams from Moreno.
If you were to compare ‘Resilience’ to the band’s debut effort ‘Sinner’, I can guarantee you that just about every one of the band’s fans will tell you that the album doesn’t compare one bit. But if you look beyond the fact that Williams has long parted ways with this world, and judge the band’s latest effort on its own merits, I think it’s fair to say that it’s a pretty strong effort, but marred by some songs that lower the overall high standard with their sub-par lyrical themes and recycled delivery.
I think it’s fair to say that Drowning Pool has been their own worst enemy in terms of moving forward with just about every new album emerging from the band featuring a new vocalist. But if the band can hold onto Moreno, and challenge themselves on the song writing front from this point, they may find an audience, and perhaps recapture a little of their former glory.

For more information on Drowning Pool, check out - http://www.drowningpool.com/

© Justin Donnelly