Review by Greg Maki
Drowning Pool has taken a long and winding road to 2016 and its sixth studio album, “Hellelujah.” Singers have come and gone. Since the massive success of its debut, “Sinner” (2001), the only one to feature its original frontman, the late Dave Williams, the band’s prominence in the hard rock/metal world has varied from album to album.
The title of its fifth record, “Resilience” (2013), wasn’t empty posturing. Guitarist C.J. Pierce, bassist Stevie Benton and drummer Mike Luce have endured more than their fair share of adversity during the past decade and a half, and they’re not merely still standing; “Hellellujah” is easily their best since “Sinner.”
An important thing happened between the release of “Resilience” and the making of “Hellelujah”—the “Sinner” 13th anniversary tour, which began in 2014 and stretched into 2015. Digging deep into “Sinner” clearly bled into the new album, which features 13 mostly up-tempo songs bursting with infectious energy and that extra spark the band lacked on much of its previous four records. (I enjoyed each of those on some level, but even their best moments pale in comparison to “Bodies.”) It feels like all these songs—the best of which include “Hell to Pay,” “We Are the Devil” and “All Saints Day”—were written with the live show in mind, and as I listen, I easily envision a sea of fists in the air and imagine crowds shouting out the choruses.
Vocalist Jasen Moreno, back for his second album, comes into his own here, giving a commanding performance that proves to be a lot more versatile than anything recorded by previous singers Ryan McCombs and Jason “Gong” Jones. While no one will make fans forget Dave Williams, Moreno confidently emerges from his shadow, bringing the band into the light with him.
It is as if Drowning Pool had to look back to move forward, and in doing so, it has delivered—15 years later—the rightful heir to “Sinner.”
(eOne Music, February 5, 2016)