It’s not easy being Papa Roach. Since its debut album Infest, the band, who became a staple with overtly angsty lyrics (“Cut my life into pieces/This is my last resort”) and riffs that were stripped straight from Iron Maiden, has gone through several musical changes, mostly scoffed at or ignored. That’s why its appropriate they titled their new record Metamorphosis, even if it might not be entirely accurate.
In its respective genre, the California heavies have seen several garbage singles over the past few years. “Scars” came off as Good Charlotte reloaded, the merciless “Forever” never left the radio for more than two minutes and, because of that, spawned a line of Dirty Girl tee shirts. If it weren’t for their engaging live performances, Papa Roach would have packed it up years ago, but fortunately for them, they know how to win over an audience. Hey, every magician has its sleight of hand, too.
Naturally, after two mediocre releases, fans should be skeptical of any new material from this all but relevant quartet (nostalgic moments notwithstanding). However, thanks to the sudden rise of acts like Theory Of A Deadman and Saving Abel, both notorious for having a sweet teeth for sex songs, there’s scant hope for Papa Roach to stick around, without resorting to Nickelback-style perversion (e.g. Dark Horse). That may not bode well for most bands, but for these acts, it’s just enough of a push. So, what about Metamorphosis? In all honesty, it’s probably the best album by this band since Love.Hate.Tragedy., and that is saying a ton.
After a quick introduction, “Change or Die” charges forward, as brutal of a tune as it can get for this style. Chanting and raving into the conclusion, we run into recent live favorite, “Hollywood Whore”. Many might fight affinity here, simply because of the countless heiresses, who hit the tabloid rags with endless stories of drug and sex scandals, all of which only seem to entertain the unsuspecting beauty salon customers.
Next there’s the good (“I Almost Told You That I Loved You”), the bad (“Lifeline”), and the ugly (“Had Enough”). The trio stated are the standards among this genre with arena rock chords, wailing vocals and, of course, the good natured single found in “Lifeline”. Frankly, the last two songs in this are atrocious, but somewhat offset with “Live This Down”, a proverbial saving grace. Granted, this track is dripping with emo but simultaneously it hearkens back to Love.Hate.Tragedy without the semi-rapped lyrics. In the long run toward the end of this record, there’s a ton of emo, but musically it feels stronger and more straightforward than previous installments.
The most unfortunate fact about Papa Roach is that the band itself has yet to drive back into Infest-style song construction. The anger and passionate frustration of a pure “Don’t give a fuck” attitude has sunk into oblivion with the rise of emotional songs in a rock scene that’s heavier than ’80s ballads but just as sappy. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if Metamorphosis is eventually packaged with the latest by Motley Crue and the best of Shinedown in some strange “Buy 2, Get 1” sale. That might be a deal. After all, it’s hardly worth the fifteen bucks. However, to keep things positive, for those who seem to dig this current modern rock scene, you’ll be generally pleased, so look out for that potential sale.