Who doesn’t know Papa Roach in the mean time? As a staple of the alternative metal/rock scene, they’ve been around for a couple of decades already. In 2017 they released Crooked Teeth, which showed a reborn band with a sound that went from classic old school Papa Roach vibes, all the way through their catalogue of music to sights on their future sound with cool experiments. Now they’re already back with their monumental 10th album Who Do You Trust? out via Eleven Seven Music.
Quite some people already expressed their worries about the new album after hearing the singles that got released in anticipation of the full-length. Some talked about “Papa Roach is really done now” and “why aren’t they making actual music anymore?”… Personally, I could actually appreciate the songs though was surprised with the rather overal poppy and polished turn their music had taken. So I went into listening to the full record kind of being on the fence as a loyal fan wondering if those naysayers would end up being right.
When the first notes of The Ending kick in, the slightly electronic enhanced intro still could get things go in either direction. The music swells up a bit to then drop away almost completely to give way to Jacoby Shaddix‘ relaxed rapping vocals. The chorus gets introduced by Jacoby screaming “It’s over!” which pulls my attention back more into the track. The chorus itself is to be found on a very commercial pop rock level, which isn’t necessarily bad in my opinion. Look, it’s maybe not one of the strongest tracks I’ve ever heard from them but quite some of the signature Papa Roach elements are there, just a bit more accessible and poppy. Overall, it seemed to me as a track that opens up the album perfectly, as long as it’s not the whole album through the same style.
When Renegade Music follows I’m still having really good hopes for a nice variation of music influences and creativity. Papa Roach picks up the pace a bit, adds a bit more heaviness with a very funky tone to the song. Which easily calls up resemblances of Rage Against The Machine (some of the riffs sound very VERY similar to RATM work), makes me wonder if this track is some kind of an ode to that legendary band of rebellions, especially looking at the song title (the RATM Renegades album, anyone?). There is some anger in this song, but what brings it down for me a bit here is the polished sound. At most times the anger doesn’t feel strong, raw and honest enough. Even the obligatory “Motherfucker!” feels a bit tame and forced. I am looking forward though to see this track live, because with Papa Roach‘s usual energy live, this might be a little bombshell and having more of the necessary “oomph” for this track to really shine.
With Not The Only One they go back to that more poppy alternative rock sound and a lyrical content that sounds like it’s aimed at frustrated teenagers. Luckily in the chorus they infuse the song with a really cool guitar riff and some effects on Jacoby‘s vocals that actually put something more exciting into a track that otherwise would have passed by without notice. Closer to the end of it, they actually grab back a bit more to the energy I know this band has, and actually end it on a pretty cool note. Who Do You Trust? has again that classic Papa Roach sound even though they again don’t go that crazy heavy. The overal sound of the guitars and drums brings a groove to the track that is rather infectious. A bit of an oddball of a song, but it actually grew on me just like the music video for it that shows the band doesn’t take themselves too serious.
And then it’s time for one of the most talked about tracks on the album, Elevate. Here it’s already more difficult to find that classic Papa Roach sound back except for the raps that Jacoby brings. It’s a song that you can easily hear being played at any radio channel and can be called a pure pop rock track reminiscent of bands like Imagine Dragons. A lot of people were nagging that the band is not doing anything here musically and that it’s all electronic music. If you listen really well though, you’ll hear the subtle guitar & bass lines, and in the chorus there’s that siren-like sound that clearly comes from a guitar. I think that live this could be yet another bombshell of a track, the mix on the album just made it sound very very processed and poppy.
And then comes the rest of the album, which feels like they lost interest a bit. Most of the songs sound like the same poppy, sappy stuff that just doesn’t stick to me except for being overly sticky sugar sweet. They’ve done less hard songs before, but at least they were still interesting musically and lyrically. During the second part of the album there are a lot of very forgettable tracks sadly. The only songs that still grabbed my attention a bit, were Top Of The World and I Suffer Well. The first because they infused a certain darker feeling into it that doesn’t make it the same drivel as before with a Jacoby that lets a little bit of that old anger and frustration come to surface. Talking about anger and frustration, I Suffer Well shows that they really still can do it: it’s hard, heavy and fast! Much to fast… this punk-infused track is not even a minute and a half long and makes you want for more, much more…
Look, I still sort of trust in Papa Roach. They have a couple of tracks on this album that I really got to like and will be killer when you can catch them live. Am I totally happy with this release? I can’t say I am. I like the fact that this band never wants to stand still and are looking to come forward with a new sound. I just wish that they worked it out better like some other bands actually did when they made a big switch in sound (looking in the direction of Linkin Park and Bring Me The Horizon, just to name two). Here’s for hoping that the next one is again more in the direction of Crooked Teeth, I haven’t given up on you guys at all!
Release date: January 18th, 2019
Label: Eleven Seven Music
1. The Ending
2. Renegade Music
3. Not The Only One
4. Who Do You Trust?
6. Come Around
7. Feels Like Home
9. Top Of The World
10. I Suffer Well
12. Better Than Life