Drowning Pool

Sinner (Wind-up Entertainment)

With the glut of Nu Metal purveyors in the marketplace all vying for space on festival side stages, the bands that get themselves noticed have to project something slightly out of the ordinary -- a tough assignment in a genre where full-body tats and piercings utilizing more stainless steel than a walk-in restaurant cooler are the norm. With the buzz hit "Bodies," from this, its debut album, Dallas-based Drowning Pool shows the rewards and dangers inherent in the metal path.

"Bodies" has become something of a club and radio novelty hit with its insistent "Let the bodies hit the floor" battle cry reverberating through mosh pits around the country, its success propelling the quartet into Ozzfest and a number of high-profile opening gigs. The danger in this approach is that audiences can stop paying attention once they hear "the song," an unhealthy situation for a new band. Fortunately Drowning Pool has a few more tricks in its "Bodies" bag.

Drowning Pool was a standard-issue entry in the Nu Metal sweepstakes until the addition of vocalist Dave Williams, an eight-year veteran of Texas hard-rock and metal aggregations. In Williams, Drowning Pool gained a potent frontman, a powerful set of pipes, and an abrasively effective songwriting partner. He has a great facility for moving from a whisper to a scream, dialing back and forth between his very capable singing voice, his muscular shout, and his throaty, paint-peeling shriek. Williams's ability to control the tempo with his vocals, much like that of Mike Patton in Faith No More or Mike Muir in Suicidal Tendencies, is an important facet of Drowning Pool's sound. Just as important, the band (guitarist C.J. Pierce, bassist Stevie Benton, and drummer Mike Luce) has a sense of melody and subtlety often lost in metallurgy, combined with the massive groove necessary to move material this heavy.

Ultimately the rest of Sinner is what redeems Drowning Pool. The band's thoughtful takes on religion ("Sermon" and the title track), self-determination ("Pity," "Tear Away"), and relationships ("All Over Me," "Told You So"), set to a soundtrack that is equal parts Tool, Korn, and King's X, elevate Sinner above the junkyard metal of its peers.

 
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