My immediate question, regarding Papa Roach‘s sixth release, is how relevant can this band really be in this day and age? I mean, my initial reaction to finding their latest on my doormat was one of bewildered amusement, but it was the reaction of my younger sister that pretty much answered my query – “OH MY GOD, YOU’VE GOT THE NEW PAPA ROACH ALBUM, YOU BASTARD” she screamed at the top of her shrill voice and suddenly everything began to click into place.
Of course, I remember Papa Roach for their nightmarishly embarrassing crossover of nu-metal and ‘emo’ way back when I still had to wear a school uniform five days a week. But it would seem that they’re doing their utmost to escape the old image that put them in the spotlight. Indeed, with an album called ‘Metamorphosis’ and a tracklisting that reads like a Barack Obama PR phrasebook, (‘March Out Of The Darkness’, ‘Into the Light’, ‘Change Or Die’… well, maybe not the latter) you get the unmistakable feeling that Papa Roach are trying to present themselves in a more serious, challenging light – as long as you ignore the pictures of them gurning in an incredible amount of makeup throughout the liner notes and front cover. Could Papa Roach really cement themselves as a voice for an older, more mature generation?
Despite my scepticism, the initial few tracks of ‘Metamorphosis’ certainly took me aback a slight bit. The ‘Days Of War’ instrumental intro is contrived and cliché, but does induce a sense of power to the rebellious nature of ‘Change Or Die’ which is packed with a catchy hook and some determined vocals. Even ‘Hollywood Whore’ surprises with its perfectly punctuated chorus, lambasting the rise and fall of young starlets in the music industry. However, it’s at this point where my biggest gripe with the album comes to fruition – the lyrics.
There’s probably a reason why the album’s words aren’t printed in the liner notes, instead replaced by the aforementioned photoshoot snaps. ‘Hollywood Whore’ is a laughable diatribe, singer Jacoby Shaddix crooning “Cocaine nose and trendy clothes / Gotta send her to rehab / She found out she’s got no soul / But it really doesn’t bother her” and ‘Live This Down’ completely avoids any subtlety or originality in its bitter reflection of a relationship ending in a somewhat negative way: “I always thought I could trust you / But I guess that’s not the case / All the years that I loved you / You were out there playing games” and so on. These are just a couple of examples, but give the album one spin and you’ll be laughing, such is the dense ratio of utter garbage to poetic talent.
The truth is, Papa Roach are undoubtedly questioning just how relevant they are themselves. A career that has arguably never been as successful as the one song that put them in the mainstream; a band chopping and changing their sound seemingly unsure of where to go next. Of course, most damaging to their credibility is their advancing years with some members not too far off the big 4-0. In the end, their music becomes as generic and throwaway as the Hollywood whores they rant about and despite its aspirations of change, ‘Metamorphosis’ becomes a retreading of over-familiar ideas and genre norms to keep a certain age bracket happy, and nothing more.