Review Summary: Is a regression in quality considered a ‘metamorphosis’?
After gaining mainstream appeal with power ballad ‘Scars’, Papa Roach then released 5th album ‘The Paramour Sessions’ in 2006. Surprisingly proficient no matter what the style of song, the LP ranged from adrenalin rush nu-metal to poppy mainstream rock and from hair metal to power ballads. However, Papa Roach left it to the very end of ‘The Paramour Sessions’ to further show the growth of their band. Closer ‘Roses On My Grave’ not only showcased matured songwriting and a fantastic string arrangement, but really left fans with something to look forward to from the Californian quartet. When it was revealed that the band’s new LP would be titled ‘Metamorphosis’, the expectation only heightened.
The dictionary definition of the word ‘metamorphosis’ is “A transformation. A distinct change of shape, character, appearance, condition or function”. Technically, Papa Roach are not lying to us that there has been a metamorphosis of some sort; former Unwritten Law member Tony Palermo has replaced Dave Buckner on drums! Apart from that however, there really is no change in musical style, unless you consider a regression in quality a metamorphosis.
The album at least begins in a promising manner with 90 second instrumental ‘Days of War’ building up well to the shout-along mosh-worthy ‘Change or Die’. While this aptly titled pseudo-opener may be relatively simple accessible metal in the vein of a more melodic Bullet For My Valentine or Disturbed, it is effective both in isolation and in pumping up the listener for what is hopefully going to follow on this 45 minute LP. Unfortunately, it is pretty much all downhill from there.
Lead single ‘Hollywood Whore’ takes aim at the flirtatious females that have invaded tinsel-town of late. There is a half-decent riff courtesy of guitarist Jerry Horton and some melody contained within the cut, but it is all brought down by clichéd lines such as “the talk of the town is that she’s going down”. And when the song ends with “don’t let the door hit you where the good lord split you honey” and the following ‘I Almost Told You That I Loved You’ begins with “You know I love it when you’re down on your knees”, a double-take is in order to ensure lead vocalist Jacoby Shaddix has not been possessed by either Chad Kroeger (Nickelback) or Austin Winkler (Hinder).
From there, it is almost a welcome relief that ‘Metamorphosis’ settles down into a more mainstream rock sound. 2nd single ‘Lifeline’ begins a sequence of at least four tracks that are straight-forward mid-tempo rockers. Each of these cuts attempt to contain more meaningful lyrics, yet are not as powerful as they should be, meaning that they come off sounding a little ridiculous. Again, there are flashes of hooks, riffs & melody during this middle section of the album which will grow on you over repeated listening, however these factors are simply not as apparent or memorable as on the band’s previous releases.
To be fair, there is a trio of exceptions from the Nickelback formula on the second half of the LP, but even then the results are mixed. ‘Into The Light’ is more of a genuine hard-rocker (if an average one) that contains some guitar-work from Motley Crue’s Mick Mars. Yes, that is the same Mick Mars who also appeared on Hinder’s ‘Take It to the Limit’ (Chad Kroeger should be expecting a call soon). Thankfully, the closing duo of ‘Nights of Love’ and ‘State of Emergency’ rise above the pack a little as the former contains a nice sincerity about it, while the latter includes a soft/loud dynamic that effectively highlights its charging chorus. The fact that this duo both cross the 5 minute mark is a surprising positive since it allows them a little extra room to provide depth.
Make no mistake about it, drummer change aside, there is no metamorphosis for Papa Roach apparent on their 6th album. More importantly, the LP is a regression on their previous releases. The band seem to be aiming at as broad an audience as possible here, but the likelihood is that they will reach even less targets since basically every track lacks a certain something to distinguish itself from the large pack of similar artists flooding the market. Chances are that most listeners will find a couple of songs to like, but as a whole, ‘Metamorphosis’ fails to impress.
Recommended Tracks: Change or Die & State of Emergency.