Sound — 5
Drowning Pool have seemingly stumbled upon their formula that integrates fierce chord progressions and deafening screams mixed with clean vocals since the release of their 2001 debut studio effort "Sinner." While the band has largely maintained the core lineup of guitarist C.J. Pierce, bassist Stevie Benton, and percussionist Mike Luce since Drowning Pool's formation back in 1996, their most dramatic alterations have revolved around who was standing at the main microphone. Following the passing of original frontman Dave Williams in 2002, the surviving members of Drowning Pool have tried their luck with multiple lead vocalists over the years and multiple studio albums; following a two year stint with Jason Jones (now of AM Conspiracy), Drowning Pool developed an especially revived sound and career with the aid of Ryan McCombs of nu metal unit SOiL, who fronted the band from 2005 through 2011 before reuniting with his former band. Faced with another vacant frontman position, Drowning Pool would appoint Jasen Moreno of The Suicide Hook: a move which led to the occasionally rewarding but mostly awkward 2013 album "Resilience." Vocally the album retained the Drowning Pool character, with extensive guitar solos bracketing the entire effort, however from a songwriting perspective "Resilience" proved to be a chaotic listen, particularly due to the party-rock-meets-hardcore "Saturday Night" and the unnecessarily ballistic "One Finger and a Fist."
While some speculated that the new incarnation of Drowning Pool would only continue to progress in regard to their sound with experience, this formidable unit have since formulated their sixth studio album "Hallelujah," which proves to be a moderately advanced installment in the band's catalog a slight step forward from the performance captured on "Resilience." The opening number "Push" is rather evident of the band's Slipknot influences, considering it's rather dramatic incorporation of explicit, yelling vocals which then transition into melodic, clean vocals during the refrain. "By the Blood" excels where "Push," and much of the remainder of the album, generally fail and that's by taking a step off of the gas pedal in regard to the aggressiveness of the vocals and allowing a more diversified performance which plays to the benefit of Moreno's diverse range and techniques. "Drop" and "Snake Charmer" enforce a grooving metal character that plays to the benefit of the album's ability to transition from track to track, whereas "My Own Way" reverts to the color-by-numbers attitude of "Push" where the actual musicianship is set on the backburner in favor of brute emotion and feeling; which on their own can be a worthwhile listen, however it quickly becomes redundant as the record spans the course of "Goddamn Vultures," "Sympathy Depleted," "Meet the Bullet" and the closing "All Saints Day."
Melodic elements find their way back into the fold without losing that adrenaline on tracks such as "Stomping Ground," whereas "Another Name" develops an entirely different atmosphere while introducing articulate guitar work around emotion driven vocals, minus the razor edge growls, and protruding power chords and bass lines. It's during moments such as these that "Hallelujah" finds it's stride and breaks out against the predetermined expectations that go along with a modern post-grunge/heavy metal album, however they're also only occasional delves in the case of this particular Drowning Pool album.
Lyrics — 6
Drowning Pool frontman Jasen Moreno follows a path previously followed by some formidable talent in regard to this band's longevity and frequently lives up to those expectations and anticipations among familiar listeners whenever an established group introduces a new member into the fold throughout the band's latest installment "Hallelujah." More often than not, Moreno finds himself caught among the repetitive songwriting more than anything else; vocally Moreno is more than able to deliver blistering growls and warm midrange vocals any time of the day, but during songs such as "Meet the Bullet" where Moreno follows the pounding guitar rhythms while chanting "Gonna meet the bullet/ Meet the bullet/ Meet the bullet/ Gonna meet the bullet/ Meet the bullet halfway," the lack of originality becomes overtly redundant and not even a bold lyrical delivery manages to salvage the track.
Overall Impression — 5
The current lineup of Drowning Pool are evidently still finding comfortable ground from a songwriting perspective since the departure of Ryan McCombs in 2011. The introduction of Jasen Moreno into the fold has proved to be a vital and appropriate one, which following the less-than-favorable end result that appeared on 2013's "Resilience" has allowed for the far more memorable, yet not nearly exceptional final cut that comprises "Hallelujah." There's more cohesiveness to be found throughout, for sure, but it's that same inability to deviate from an almost identical songwriting strategy for half the album (topped off by hit-and-miss lyrics and often excessively aggressive vocals) which has "Hallelujah" losing any ability to become comfortable with the replay button.