Soundbites: Papa Roach
After nearly two decades in the music business, some would think that hard-rock quartet Papa Roach would lose their thunder. They became famous for their angsty anthems such as “Last Resort,” “She Loves Me Not” and “Broken Home,” later transitioning to a more contemporary style with “Scars,” “Forever” and “Lifeline.”
“The Connection,” their newest effort released in early October, stays true to the band’s roots while updating the world on their growth thus far. The record is a culmination of all the styles explored by the band in their long history together—rock, nu-metal and pop elements included. “Engage” introduces the album in under a minute with a marching drum beat and an echo of the band’s inspiring adage: “We are the ones still swingin.” The album’s second track “Still Swingin” was appropriately released as the first single for the record, a song assuring fans that the band is still coming full force through their speakers, despite the trials they have faced in recent years.
Frontman Jacoby Shaddix has had a rough time since their last release in 2009. After divorcing his wife of more than 14 years and battling substance abuse as a result, he emerged with a brand new outlook on his life that took form in his lyrics. His bravery comes through on tracks such as “Before I Die,” “Walking Dead,” “Wish You Never Met Me” and “Leader of the Broken Hearts.” The listener is transported directly into his shoes as he turns heartache, self-blame and frustration into melodies of hope.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Papa Roach record without that trademark hard-rock groove. “Give Me Back My Life,” one of album’s more aggressive tracks, starts with an excellent riff that keeps you bopping your head all the way through. “Not That Beautiful” fits the bill for aggression and hard-hitting harmony that displays some of Jacoby’s best vocal work. He returns to his trademark rap vocals in the song’s bridge that sets it apart from the other songs on the album.
Despite the troubles faced by Shaddix and the band as a whole, a few songs convey the hope and determination felt about what lies ahead. Songs like “Breathe You In,” “Won’t Let Up” and album ender “As Far As I Remember” enthusiastically push the record along.
What’s special about this record is its ideal balance of Papa Roach’s earmark talent and a few new elements blended in to make the sound fresh but familiar at the same time. They have taken the Papa Roach legacy and transformed it to stay connected to the fans, the music and the social media world that helps bring it all together.
With another solid album under their belts, the future looks bright for the band.