By the time Papa Roach dropped 2009’s Metamorphosis, it had long moved away from the rap-rock of its landmark hit “Last Resort.” On that album, the band flirted with pop-inflected sounds, but other tracks testified that the group was still so virile that Jerry Horton’s guitar probably breaks a sweat to keep up with Jacoby Shaddix’s hyper-speed roars.
But for 2012’s The Connection, the steroid-heavy production was somewhat tempered so emotional catharsis could propel the album, and the same holds true for new collection F.E.A.R. (Face Everything and Rise).
The title track, among other cuts, resembles a canny post-aughts update of Linkin Park‘s Hybrid Theory, from the simple chord progressions to the dramatic keyboard ambience, although rap doesn’t appear until “Gravity,” which is six songs later. During this duet with In This Moment singer Maria Brink, it takes a minute to realize a guest MC isn’t onboard: Shaddix’s rap alter-ego Coby Dick emerges to spin a B.o.B “Airplanes”-style flow that’s more enjoyable than Shaddix’s usual jagged spitting, and Brink’s imploring, choked vocals convincingly evoke feelings of suffocation and despondency.
The honorary MC spot is actually filled by a very precise Royce da 5’9″ on “Warriors,” which upholds Papa Roach’s well-known can’t-hold-me-down ethos — so does the album’s namesake tune, which lets Shaddix defiantly proclaim, “My pain is a blessing in a disguise.” The songs also lay bare how the band — like everyone else — has a few secrets rattling its closet doors (“Skeletons”) and that even though that which does not kill us makes us stronger, we nonetheless still wind up annihilated (“Broken as Me”). But the quartet keeps believing that there’s a purpose to it all (“War Over Me”), and that tenacity is likely one reason that Papa Roach is able to keep musically surviving.
Papa Roach and producer Kevin Churko discuss the track “Broken as Me” in this Billboard-exclusive video.
Papa Roach’s eighth album, F.E.A.R (Face Everything and Rise), arrived Tuesday (Jan. 27) on Eleven Seven Music.