Review Summary: A desperate attempt to remain relevant backfires drastically as Papa Roach's uninspired 9th studio album will likely go unnoticed by the fans who once adored them.
Unless you were in a coma for a good chunk of the 2000s, you know exactly who Papa Roach are. For those of you who've just emerged from comatose, firstly, welcome back, secondly, Papa Roach are a 4 piece whatever-happens-to-be-trendy-core band from Vacaville, California. After the ubiquitous success of their 2000 single 'Last Resort' and their sophomore album going triple platinum in the US, Papa Roach have struggled to match that colossal accomplishment ever since. 17 years on, they have released their ninth studio album.
This album oozes with the desire to remain relevant in whatever way it can. Vocalist Jacoby Shaddix does his best at delivering some classic rap metal verses, but with the rise of bands like Hacktivist and others doing that in such a modern way, Shaddix's attempts at this sound come off archaic and very dated. There are some decently catchy choruses throughout, but a lot of these songs rely very heavily on these for their run time, and unfortunately the choruses aren't strong enough to be used so often. This desperation to be accessible is accentuated by the appearance of Machine Gun Kelly as a feature on the track 'Surnise Trailer Park', where Shaddix decries his past over a watered down pop punk instrumental. MGK is in this track for just over 30 seconds, and is likely just on here to appeal to a wider audience.
The instrumentals on here are probably my biggest gripe with the overall sound of the record. Every track is formulaic in structure and the guitar tone is overproduced to the point of lacking any human element to it's playing. Papa Roach have clearly acknowledged the popularity of djent and pop punk on this record and given their best go at writing riffs that wouldn't be out of place in either genre, but the tones and elements used in this album remove all the charm that those genres usually exhibit. As this album goes on modern pop elements begin leaking into the tracks, guitars and real drums take a backseat to synth leads and sampled drum beats. This is most notable on the track 'None Of The Above', which sounds like a Twenty One Pilots deep cut in it's vocal phrasing and structure. It's a little sad to know that this band once had their own sound that brought them such a huge audience, but their unique potential is wasted on their desperation to sell to a mainstream audience.
Shaddix has never been a master wordsmith, but the lyrics on this are what I can only describe as generic. Whilst his vocal performance is consistent and solid, what's actually being said here leaves an awful lot to be desired. I feel as though I could present this album to a class studying entry level alt-rock lyricism as a level 1 template to writing a modern rock song. From the opening track to the record's love song closer 'Bleeding Through', there's not a single lyric that has stuck in my mind, which is again rather disappointing when the lyrics to 'Last Resort' are almost universally recognized and recitable.
In summary, Papa Roach's attempt at modern relevancy has let them down here. Whilst never being to my taste, this band once had a massive audience that loved them for their rhythmic vocal delivery and crunching guitars, and everything that made them so beloved is vacant from this record. If you're into accessible, catchy rock then I can see you probably enjoying 'Crooked Teeth', 'Richocet', 'Traumatic' and 'Bleeding Through'. These are the strongest cuts here in my opinion, the rest falls short of the finish line. For me, this record is exceptionally unremarkable. Not unlistenable, just uninspiring. It lacks any individualism, and that is self inflicted. Maybe next time, Papa Roach.