Review Summary: Papa Roach ask the tough questions. And provide no satisfying answers.
Despite the towering size of being in a mech, the Jungle of Thestria still tower over me. Not even the smoldering wreckage of the hostile mechs and artillery do much to detract from the vastness of wilderness. I continue to make my way to the target without any issue; that is until Foster calls out on the comm; “It’s charging! Back peddle, get outta there!” Before I have any real time to react I see it coming out of the brush. A massive spider mech; armed with a massive plasma cannon and incredibly dense armour. Damn thing quick too. My mech is tossed to the ground like a cardboard cut-out as the spider smashes me into the ground. The only other thing going through my head at the time is the immortal voice of Jacoby Shaddix wailing: “AND I’M ADDICTED TO YOUR PUNISHMENT…”
That was my introduction to Papa Roach all the way back in 2004. At that time the band had already established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, transitioning from the rap metal outfit which gave rise to the rockstars to a more nu-metal / hard rock based sound. And now Papa Roach are back with Who Do You Trust?
which marks the band’s 10th full-length record in the career spanning over 20 years, an impressive feat that can’t be said about many of their contemporaries from back in the day who have either fallen into obscurity or have failed to maintain a consistent output. It can be said without a doubt that part of the reason of their continued relevance in mainstream rock is the band's choice to incorporate whatever musical trend passing by without sacrificing the core of their sound. But now Papa Roach find themselves in an interesting position; with various Rage Against the Machine inspired projects popping up and Limp Bizkit making headlines again, it seems they’ve survived long enough to have their influences become popular again. This would provide the perfect opportunity for the rock veterans to show listeners once again why they made it big in the first place. Unfortunately Who Do You Trust?
is little more than a mess, lacking both inspiration and focus.
Once again, we see the band try to balance new trends with their older sound; while this has always been met with mixed results at best, it seems this time around that even they can’t get behind what should be second nature to them. Who Do You Trust?
starts of with the ever so cleverly titled “The End”, which is meant to serve as a both an anthem and a rising tension track in which Shaddix declares “This is the start of the ending and how he’s “watching all the moves you make” and “counting all of your mistakes”; however, the song climaxes much to early leaving a strained Shaddix to stagnate for the rest of run time. “Elevate” followers a similar theme, relying more on Shaddix’s rap chops and a sparser, more pounding instrumental backing; the problem here is that instead of a banger “Elevate” sounds like the musical equivalent of the old man the floor below you banging on the ceiling with a broomstick. The much more aggressive tracks on this album such as “Renegade Music” or the title track “Who Do You Trust?” are of course meant to be very in your face and abrasive, yet production is so overblown that instead of being heavy and pounding it simply becomes grating to listen to. From there we are left with tracks such as “Feel Like Home” and “Come Around” offering much more lively and upbeat instrumental that you’d find on the next big teen drama; while these tracks are definitely enjoyable in their own way, they offer very little in terms of originality or passion like much of the album. The only real highlight to be found is minute and half punk track “I Suffer Well”. Despite the fact that this track simply comes out of nowhere and does not relate to anything else on Who Do You Trust?
, it is simply a bombastic and fun jam in practically every way.
If there has been one thing that has constantly been a problem for Papa Roach throughout their career, it is that of generic song writing. And Who Do You Trust?
is simply no exception. While the band has toyed with the idea of political leanings in the past, here the lyrics are simply so vague that they fail to make any real impression at all; to make matters worse, the aggressive, vaguely political themes are abandoned less than halfway through the album. Which ironically sparks the question whether or not Shaddix and company should be trusted either. Finally one thing that listeners could always expect from the band comes from none other than their frontman Jacoby Shaddix, his bombastic energy and charisma is one that out shined many of his contemporaries nor has ever been emulated since. But throughout the album, except for the previously mentioned “I Suffer Well”, Shaddix simply sounds lifeless and even bored no matter what he’s doing. His rap flows, is strained pseudo screams, and anthemic singing are just so monotone and flat in their delivery. Either that or it’s been distorted by so many effects it becomes unlistenable and even the stronger tracks suffer because of it.
I have almost always been willing to give a band like Papa Roach the benefit of the doubt, even their last few albums had some decent hits in my opinion; but here the band manages to sink to new lows, a feat some listeners felt wasn’t possible, with even less focus and passion than ever before. With their inability to answer their own question, perhaps a more fitting solution is provided ironically: perhaps it’s time to stop trusting Papa Roach.