Review Summary: When Angels and Serpents Dance gives the impression of an incomplete album with some very good tracks and other ones that with more efficiency could had been made a very consistent album with mostly quality tracks, especially with their guitar work.
There was a time when P.O.D were one of the most successful bands in the beginning of the new millenium and stood out in the Nu Metal movement because of albums with spiritual lyrics (especially The Fundamental Elements of Southtown and Satellite), until their guitarist Marcos Curiel left the band on February 19 of 2003. After recording two inconsistent albums in terms of quality with guitarist Jason Truby (Payable on Death and Testify), Marcos Curiel went back with the band on December 30 of 2006 to work again with Sonny Sandoval (vocalist), Traa Daniels (bassist) and Wuv Bernardo (drummer), and then decided to release When Angels And Serpents Dance in 2008.
Despite the return of Marcos Curiel, this album feels like a bag of mixed results and doesn't show the same spark and passion of albums like Satellite. Curiosly, the heavier songs doesn't really shine and almost all of the softer ones are better than the loud ones, something that wasn't very common in their other albums (maybe with the exception of Testify); also Curiel did more lead work, the spiritual message is still present and those are some of the better things in this album.
The first track, Addicted, opens up with a kind of heavy riff and lyrics talking about misconceptions in the world and the need to stop them, unfortunately, this song is something of a failed attempt to make their heaviest song despite a catchiest chorus and a quite good short guitar solo. The second track, Shine with Me, has good lyrics about unification and a option to live a better life but the softer music approach and the vocals sound a little bit uninspired, possibly one of the worst of the non-metal songs.
After two tracks that didn't give high expectations, there's the next track, Condescending, another heavy track that's it's much better than Addicted and reflects an effort to help somebody to stop being a disdainful person. The fourth song, It Can't Rain Everyday, is outstanding with his guitar work that is reminiscent of Santana and similiar in his lyrical structure to Youth of the Nation from Satellite but this one cover the topics of social pressure, unemployment and miscarriage; it's a mellow song and it's arguably one of the better songs of the entire album.
Following Condescending and It Can't Rain Everyday, the subsequent two tracks have guest appearances with different results. The strangely titled Kaliforn-Eye-A with Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies as a guest doesn't work with his mix of funky riffs and punk rock breakdown, including the delivery of Sonny Sandoval and Mike Muir of lyrics about being from San Diego, California (this could be the worst track in the album); on the other hand, I'll Be Ready is a much better executed track with a reggae influence and Cedella and Sharon Marley as guests, expressing some kind of struggle along an intention to still move on, this is another mellower song with a Santana influence in the guitar and with a little guitar solo.
End of the World starts with a calm intro but explodes into a loud song that deals with the lack of peace in the world and persons that promise peace without a solution, it's possibly the best of the metal songs in the album but not the best of the whole album; This Ain't No Ordinary Love Song is about someone that has an unresolved love issue, it's an average song that could had been a good song if the band members had really decided to put more effort in it.
God Forbid is another track with a guest appearance of Page Hamilton of Helmet, this one is the heaviest song on the album with words that emphasize misconceptions of the world like the Addicted track but it gets lost in the bridge and in the final minutes; Roman Empire, a combination of acoustic and electric guitar, is an instrumental song that shows the talents of Marcos Curiel and is almost in the same line as Eternal from the album Payable on Death (this one played by former guitarist Jason Truby and with the guest contribution of Phil Keaggy) but it’s short length it’s the main difference between both songs.
The title track, When Angels & Serpents Dance, is the last heavy song on the album and speaks vaguely the importance of having something in life that guide us and show us that the real life is a fight between evil and goodness but it’s most of a filler track; Tell Me Why, an acoustic track, is the best song along with It Can’t Rain Everyday, it has an emotional and good performance from Sonny Sandoval despite his limited vocal range and has an anti-war theme. The final track, Rise Against, it’s another track about the importance of life and closes the album in a decent note, it feels as an average track that could had been better with more work in it like This Ain't No Ordinary Love Song.
As whole, When Angels and Serpents Dance gives the impression of an incomplete album with some very good tracks and other ones that with more efficiency could had been made a very consistent album with mostly quality tracks, especially with their guitar work.