Review Summary: Like it or not, there is no doubt that this is the best thing they've done since Sinner
It’s almost impossible to look at Drowning Pool as the same band they were in 2002. A lot has changed since then. As we all know, Dave Williams died of heart failure in his tour bus while on tour for their debut album, Sinner. Since then, the band have wandered aimlessly album through album trying to recapture what they lost in what was such a promising sound. It’s already apparent that no vocalist they have had will match Williams in terms of range and versatility, but nevertheless they still try again and again. After a disappointing follow up album (Desensitized) and the firing of Jason Jones, the band hired former SOIL vocalist Ryan McCombs, and established a sound which they continue to uphold to this day.
Full Circle was an album that not only introduced their new and current vocalist, but an album that featured a shift in musical direction for the band. New elements were present in their sound, with Ryan’s gruff vocals bringing a new dimension to what they had already. C.J. Pierce, arguably the most talented member in the band, experimented more with clean and acoustic guitars and there was a god awful cover as well. Overall, it was yet another failure by Drowning Pool to live up to the standards they presented on Sinner.
After touring extensively in support of Full Circle, the band announced that they were recording new material and soon were finished with their new self-titled album. This record is the first in their history to feature the same vocalist twice, signifying that they have finally found a comfortable sound since Williams’ death. It should be noted that while this album is much better than Full Circle, one should not go into it expecting Sinner Pt.2 by any means.
The album opens with ‘Let the Sin Begin’, a song that features that unique guitar sound by C.J. Pierce and Ryan’s signature vocal style and his habit of introducing a shout-along chorus. This technique is used a lot on the album and can grow tiresome after a few tracks, which is why only some songs on the record might be appealing at all if anything. Pierce shows maturity in his guitar playing by bringing back a lot of the effects he used on Sinner and adding guitar solos to multiple songs. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they have become a better band, but it still adds a welcome addition to their sound.
Songs like ‘Feel Like I Do’ and ‘Turn So Cold’, both singles off of the album, make good hard rock songs that plead for radio airplay but are also quite catchy. We all know songs that have horrible lyrics but are still infectiously catchy, take Mudvayne’s ‘Scream With Me’ for example. The song has horrible lyrics, but there’s something about it that is very catchy and gets you hooked. That’s really what makes this album what it is; it’s a fun hard rock album with a lot of catchy songs.
Being a 4 piece band, Drowning Pool usually leave room spread out across the album for all band members to show off their capability as musicians. On this self-titled album, each member does accomplish this. Ryan shows off his vocals in several tracks here. He experiments with his range more and improves as a vocalist this time around. On some songs, like ‘More Than Worthless’, he opts for a different style in his singing that proves quite effective. On other songs like ‘Let the Sin Begin’, ‘Feel Like I Do’, and ‘Regret’, he presents his signature style he used a lot on Full Circle. C.J. Pierce is one of the best parts about this album, for his guitar playing is arguably at its best this time around. For example, take his playing on ‘Feel Like I Do’. He implements his wah-wah/distortion effect that was so prominent on Sinner and throws a little solo in the song to top it off. It’s not the best solo on the album, but it fits the song well and across the album he proves himself as a guitarist. Bassist Stevie Benton and Drummer Mike Luce form a very tight rhythm section. The bass is more prominent than ever on this album, particularly on ‘Children of the Gun’ where it drives the song and helps the whole band meld together. Mike provides some nice beats on the album, but there are no drum solos or anything incredible worth noting about the drumming here. The whole band also backs up Ryan for the shout-along sections, particularly on the singles.
Like it or not, there is no doubt that Drowning Pool’s new self-titled album is the best thing the band has done since Sinner. With the passing of Dave Williams and a tremendous loss to a sound that was so promising back in the nu-metal era, it takes a lot to get back up and keep going. No one should go into this album expecting something that compares to their older work. It shows that Drowning Pool are not down for the count just yet. Having found a vocalist who finally clicks with their sound and a vibe they are comfortable with after years of failure, they are ready to build on what they have and strive to make some good music again. No one should go into this album expecting anything groundbreaking or as good as their debut, but if Drowning Pool continue to grow and expand on their new sound they just might surprise us in the future.