P.O.D.'s 2001 release Satellite made the born-again Christian rap-metalists stars as they racked up hits with "Alive," "Boom," and the post-Columbine anthem "Youth of the Nation." It was clear that any follow-up would be hotly anticipated, but no one could have predicted the departure of guitarist Marcos at the height of the band's success. A crucial part of P.O.D.'s sound, Marcos seemed to combine the epic metal of Sepultura with the organic punk energy of Bad Brains and the searching spirituality of Carlos Santana. It was also unclear as to why he actually left, with both Marcos and the band issuing contradictory explanations that brought into question both parties' spiritual and musical convictions. One thing was clear though, it was going to take a strong creative force to make up for the loss: enter ex-Living Sacrifice fret-man Jason Truby, who joined the band just in time to record its single for the Matrix Reloaded soundtrack as well as the 2003 full-length Payable on Death. A darker album than its predecessor, Payable is built largely around Truby's precise slabs of distorted guitar. More quintessentially "metal" in his approach -- think Metallica -- and more of a conscientious technician than Marcos, Truby unfortunately lacks some of the unexpected spark that Marcos brought to P.O.D.. Fans of the band shouldn't find much to complain about here though, even if the overall sound doesn't stand out as distinctly from the nu-metal pack as Satellite did. Nevertheless, vocalist Sonny hasn't lost any of his Tom Morello meets H.R. attitude, and for the most part the songs are there. Notably, "Change the World" is a catchy and upbeat celebration of truth through the eyes of a child, and the darkly sanguine leadoff track, "Wildfire," finds Sonny proclaiming, "Me want uncultivated Jah glow." In the end though, Payable on Death is a declaration of a band reborn in a new, more polished image, and it is no small gesture that the last track, "Eternal," goes solely instrumental with Truby's guitar leading the way.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar