"Full Circle" (Eleven Seven; 2007)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton


Apparently, after reading many other reviews of Drowning Pool's previous CD, "Desensitized," we were one of the few that liked it. Regardless of what others thought, we stand by our review. "Desensitized" was a pretty good CD.

Former vocalist Jason "Gong" Jones has since gone his separate way from the band, however, and now we have "Full Circle," the first CD featuring new Drowning Pool vocalist, Ryan McCombs (formerly of Soil). What do we think of the new "Drowning Pool" CD?

Well, we like this one, too. In fact, we like it a little better than we liked "Desensitized." What would you expect? We're fans of Soil as well.

Although there isn't one particular song on "Full Circle" that stands out as did "Step Up" on the last CD (although "Soldiers" comes damn close), "Full Circle" is a much more consistent album, thanks in part to McCombs intense, heavy metal voice. Reportedly, McCombs was actually the band's first choice to take the mike when Dave Williams tragically passed away but he was unavailable at the time due to his work with Soil. One can sense a certain comfort level on "Full Circle" that wasn't there on "Desensitized" where, perhaps, the band had too much to prove. That comfort level has led to more refined songwriting, the willingness to take a risk or two and the desire to put the band's heart on its collective sleeve.

In addition, "Full Circle" is more of a straight-forward metal album than the previous CD. The guitars are more streamlined and the solos plentiful. The band isn't afraid to sail into an acoustic moment when the time is right either, setting up an even bigger impact when they go back to full-strength rock'n'roll. The CD closes with a perhaps unnecessary but engaging cover of Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell." 

Although it may not be the definitive Drowning Pool CD (that CD, I'm convinced, is yet to come), "Full Circle" is ample evidence that this band has a long, successful future ahead of it.  

Drowning Pool: Stevie Benton - bass; Ryan McCombs - vocals; Mike Luce - drums; C.J. Pierce - guitars.

For more information, check out http://www.drowningpool.com

"Desensitized" (Wind Up; 2004)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton


I had a hunch that Drowning Pool would survive the tragic and untimely death of singer Dave Williams when I heard the band's driving performance with Rob Zombie on the "Daredevil" film soundtrack. I was even more certain they would make it when I heard  the energetic "Step Up," from the soundtrack for "The Punisher."

Now, the band's first full-length CD with new vocalist Jason "Gong" Jones has been released and, guess what? Drowning Pool survives.

I'm not going to compare "Desensitized" to "Sinner." That's a pointless exercise. It's enough to say that "Desensitized" is a strong, entertaining record and proof that Drowning Pool is here to stay. 

While no song on the CD ever surpasses the energy and power of the aforementioned "Step Up" single (which also appears here, by the way), "Desensitized" stays strong throughout, keeping the energy level and tempo fast and furious. The best tracks are the chunky opener, "Think," the near perfect "Step Up," the bigger-than-life "Nothingness," and the sure-to-be-radio-hit "This Life."

The guitars here sound great and not just on the leads. This is a testament both to guitarist C.J. Pierce and producer Johnny K, who obviously know that , in a metal recording, it's the guitars that matter. I can't wait to see this stuff performed live - it's gonna kick ass in a live setting.

And kudos to Jason "Gong" Jones, who had some mighty big shoes to fill and still managed to give Drowning Pool a stirring new voice. 

My only complaints are that I don't think the songwriting on "Desensitize" is quite as strong as on "Sinner" (damn! I said I wasn't going to compare them!) and that I don't like the CD cover. Don't get me wrong - I like pentagram-encased hooters as much as the next guy - but the porno magazine artwork is cheesier than I would have expected. This is a metal record, not Gallery magazine.

Drowning Pool: Stevie Benton - bass; Jason "Gong" Jones - vocals; Mike Luce - drums; C.J. Pierce - guitars.

For more information, check out http://www.drowningpool.com

"Sinema" DVD (Wind Up; 2002)

Reviewed by Alicia Downs


The first thing that needs to be addressed regarding "Sinema" is that is it for a cause, and a noble one at that. "Sinema" is much more than a tribute to fallen Drowning Pool front man Dave Williams. It is also a reminder of his dreams. One of Williams' "rock star" goals was that no matter what, he always wanted to purchase his parents a home. That dream was cut short when Williams died unexpectedly from an undiagnosed heart condition in August 2002 while on tour with Ozzfest. Williams' life may have been cut short but his bandmates and label (Wind Up Records) refused to let the dream be. And so with that ambition the idea for "Sinema" was born. Wind Up records announced at the singer's funeral that the first $250,000 in proceeds of the DVD (then not yet in production) would go to fund Williams' dream so that his parents could have the home he always wanted them to have. For that cause alone, "Sinema" is worth purchasing, not only for yourself but for a friend as well. Now on with the review ...

"Sinema" is a 2 1/2 hour collection of Drowning Pool footage. The Pentagram menu bar is, quite frankly, a pain in the ass to operate but once you get the hang of it you will not be cursing too much. The DVD contains a Dave Williams tribute section with thoughts on the singer from the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde, Rob Zombie, Soil, Adema, and Finger Eleven among others. There is also a nothing short of insane section contributed by Pantera's Dimebag Darrell consisting of the guitar player's personal home videos with Williams. 

The DVD also contains some laugh your ass off backstage footage complete with drummer Mike Luce using fireworks to blow up a port-a-potty to production assistant Josh's drunken escapades to bass player Stevie Benton's overwhelming desire to put whole feet in his mouth. 

Another section boasts some "bootleg" videos of performances ranging from Australia, Germany, Orlando, and the bandís hometown of Dallas. However, if you are looking for some grainy quality fan videos of shows do not look here, these are more professional seeming videos filmed by the likes of Sony Music and Jaegermeister. 

As expected, the DVD features Drowning Pool's three music videos "Sinner," "Bodies," and "Tear Away" from their debut album "Sinner." As well, there are some unreleased songs and footage of their Wrestlemania "Tear Away" performance from this past spring. 

All in all, "Sinema," provides some entertaining footage that peers into the last few years of the life of Williams and the band as a whole. It is through the live concerts, asinine moments of male duct tape nudity (yes, you read that right) and just overall memories of the music that provides a fitting tribute of that Texas can of metal whoop ass Williams unleashed.

Drowning Pool's Official Web Site: http://www.drowningpool.com

"Sinner" (Wind Up; 2000)

Reviewed by Alicia Downs


Drowning Pool represents the newest of the metal boys to emerge from the Dallas scene. Stemming from a city known for their hardcore metal upbringing, Drowning Pool rose to fame quickly touring with the likes of Sevendust without even a demo let alone a record deal. Their debut album on Wind Up records, "Sinner" marks a personal accomplishment for the quartet, an album complete with a self-satisfaction anthem, fuck religion disdain, and an ode to the infamy of moshing bodies erupting across the land.

The highlight for any album for me is one where I can just hit play and not have to skip around looking for something of worth between miniscule tracks. "Sinner" eagerly met that requirement dragging me along with vocalist Dave Williams' emotional highs and lows all met with a classic in your face metal attitude demanding not only recognition but also respect. Track "Tear Away" will haunt your psyche for nights to come while "Bodies" will fuel the primitive rage that gives birth to the insanities relished from nothing short of the metal concert experience (or European soccer game). "Sermon" and "Sinner" readily reflect their personal tensions with religious affiliations through lingering choruses and contagious musical complexities.

In the event that you do not make it a point to go out and listen to these guys, rest assured that will not save you from running into them at some point. With a prime spot on the second stage of this summer's Ozzfest metal menagerie (although not much metal on the main stage this year) and an infectious style of metal that will easily cross over into the hard rock genre, mainstream notoriety should come to Drowning Pool as it has to Ozzfest alumni Godsmack. Drowning Pool will be in your face for at least one more album to come. 

But, unlike some other artists that front as metal magicians with crossover appeal, Drowning Pool's music is actually good - and how many of us can say the same about the majority of other media successful albums of today?

Drowning Pool are: Dave Williams - vocals; Mike Luce - drums; CJ Pierce - guitars; Stevie Benton - bass.

More information can be found on their official web site: http://www.drowningpool.com.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

Back to CD Reviews Home

Back to RoughEdge.com Home

Copyright © 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.