CD Review of Full Circle by Drowning Pool

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Full Circle
starstarstarno starno star Label: Eleven Seven Music
Released: 2007
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Drowning Pool, despite their success, has had a very rough 11-year existence. Formed in 1996, the band hit it big in 2001 with the single “Bodies,” off the album Sinner. Tragedy struck in August of 2002, however, when lead singer Dave Williams was found dead inside the tour bus. It would later be revealed that he died of heart disease. It’s at times like these that most bands would pack it up and call it a career, at least under their current band name, but choosing to press on in Williams’ memory, the band eventually released Desensitized in 2004 with new vocalist Jason “Gong” Jones. The album, while ultimately mediocre, had several Williams trademarks and wasn’t nearly as bad as people made it out to be.

In 2005, Jones was replaced with former SOiL frontman Ryan McCombs, and Full Circle is his first full-length studio effort with Drowning Pool. While the band has really made an effort to branch out and expand their sound on this record, the results are as haphazard as previous releases. The issue at hand is that there isn’t one single memorable track. Sure, there are some solid ones, but nothing that will stick in your mind for even an hour after the disc stops spinning. Just as frustrating is the fact that the best songs are front-loaded to the top seven tunes, leaving a second half that feels like outtakes.

Full Circle kicks off with its title track, and McCombs’ roaring vocals are on display by the 30-second mark. I was a huge fan of his work with SOiL, and here, while he’s more subdued, he still boasts one of the most intense voices in hard rock. “Full Circle” serves as a microcosm of what most of the tracks on the album contain: driving riffs, melodic choruses, and the occasional solo (always welcome). “Reborn” is probably the best offering, with its obvious nod to Alice in Chains and some excellent, atmospheric acoustic guitar work. Strangely enough, “Soldiers” is the current single and I wouldn’t consider it on of the stronger efforts – but it is timely.

The back end of the track listing is instantly forgettable, particularly dreck like “Love X2.” Full Circle would have been better as a 10-track disc, omitting the final three songs – including their cover of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.” While I’ll give them credit for not joining the bandwagon and covering some Depeche Mode song, this is nevertheless unnecessary and feels out of place. If anyone has a rebel yell, it’s McCombs, but that doesn’t mean this works.

Drowning Pool definitely deserves credit for persevering in the face of a horrible loss. Full Circle is a step in the right direction, and I think this band still has more to offer, but they need to be a bit more critical of themselves and keep things compact. They have nicely expanded their sound and there are plenty of building blocks for future releases.

~Bill Clark