The motto of Drowning Pool- "We are, we always have been, we always will be… Drowning Pool"- hints at the band's ongoing troubles.
The declaration of solidarity is motivated by the metal act's difficulty in retaining a lead singer. Fourteen months after the band's momentous debut album was released in 2001, vocalist Dave Williams died. His replacement lasted three years. Ryan McCombs, Drowning Pool's third front man, held the post for six years. The previously unheralded vocalist Jasen Moreno joined the Dallas-based band in recent weeks.
The band's career may be on the ropes, but the members of the quartet came out swinging. Drowning Pool has always been an incendiary live act and Friday's bracing 75-minute headlining set seemed especially impassioned. Considered hopelessly passé by music cognoscenti, the members of Drowning Pool forge an unvarnished version of metal. The absence of excess- Drowning Pool eschews showboating and instrumental solos- allows the band to emphasize its impressive catalog of songs.
"Bodies" and "Soldiers," two Drowning Pool songs embraced by many members of the American armed forces, received the strongest receptions. "Bodies" is one of the most bone-chilling songs in the heavy metal canon, while "Soldiers" might seem like pandering were it not for the band's obvious sincerity. The nihilistic "Tear Away" and the depraved "Let the Sin Begin" were similarly riveting.
Unlike his brooding predecessor, Moreno delivered each song with unchecked enthusiasm. His outgoing persona was matched by versatile vocals that ranged from controlled warbling to oppressive shrieking. Just as the VooDoo Lounge's typically excellent sound system left little doubt that Moreno is qualified for his new position, the evening's three opening acts also benefited from the venue's advantageous acoustics.
The two fine guitarists in Kansas City's For the Broken kept the band's nearly hour-long outing interesting. Omaha's the Wreckage and Kansas City's Unwritten Rulz played shorter sets. While it's a more polished act, the Wreckage was less entertaining than the endearingly workmanlike Unwritten Rulz. The adequate but lesser performances of the opening acts indicated that while Drowning Pool's sound may be uncomplicated, it isn't easily accomplished.
|Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star