Review Summary: In an attempt to buck the standard alt-metal formula, Papa Roach's latest effort falls flat.
The last few years of mainstream rock and metal has seen a significant increase in the usage of electronic elements, with The Amity Affliction, Bullet for My Valentine, and Thirty Seconds to Mars being notable examples. The results of this have been mixed at best; while it was obvious from the get-go that Thirty Seconds to Mars’ trek into the electronically engineered section of their genre would be less-than-ideal, it’s a more debatable story with other acts. Although it was bound to be polarizing, I still managed to enjoy some of the output that came in the wake of this widespread stylistic shift. On 2017’s Crooked Teeth,
Papa Roach had dipped their toes in the same pool as the other aforementioned acts, most notably on the song “Born for Greatness”. Since it was on the same album as “Break the Fall” and “Help”, the track provided a contrast between their older nu-metal roots and what was to come. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of reason to suggest that it was a worrisome affair anyway; perhaps they’d dive headfirst into the electronic scene and leave their nu-metal past behind for good. To that I say this: your fears were justified all along.
Who Do You Trust？
is, for lack of a better explanation, a mess. The band managed to present to the listener not much more than a cacophony of Imagine Dragons b-sides and questionable attempts at channeling the vibe of early Rage Against the Machine. Around three-fifths of the album is near-completely devoid of rock elements, and the music suffers as a result of that reality. “Renegade Music” could have been an apt tribute to the aforementioned Rage Against the Machine if it wasn’t so half-baked, “Elevate” feels like it could have been a b-side from Imagine Dragons’ Evolve
with its blatant similarities to tracks like “Thunder”, and “Top of the World” is arguably the most pitiful track that Shaddix and co. have penned to date. Thankfully, not everything
is wrong with the album; opener “The Ending” shows a little promise aside from some poor mixing, “Come Around” is a bland but inoffensive pop track, “I Suffer Well” is one of the most aggressive songs in the band’s catalogue despite sounding a lot like Linkin Park’s “War”, and “Better Than Life” bookends the album on a decent enough note. “Feel Like Home” is notable as well, as the band forayed into pop-punk to create the greatest highlight of the album.
The lyricism is far more half-baked this time around than on previous releases; to make it worse, singer Jacoby Shaddix sounds way out of his element here. “Renegade Music” and the title track “Who Do You Trust？” attempt to establish a call to arms, not unlike some cuts off Disturbed’s latest offering, but they contain neither the poetic ability nor the convictions of the likes of Zack de la Rocha and co. making for a laughably juvenile experience. “Elevate” has some of the cheesiest “I was lost but now I’m found” lines in recent memory. Even the likes of “I Suffer Well” feel far more like a self-indulgent ego trip than an honest change of heart. “Feel Like Home” is the only song on Who Do You Trust？
where Shaddix manages to control his hyper-inflated ego, as he takes a more introspective look at a past relationship that’s faded in his memory. Aside from that, the writing here consists of juvenile attempts at a call to arms and cheesy motivational speeches that someone like Avery Watts would scoff at. Good music can sometimes override less favorable lyrics, but that isn’t the case here. The only hope I have here is that the next go around won’t be nearly as messy as this.