As a massive fan of progressive music, Papa Roach’s comparatively simple songwriting and their sporadic use of emo, rap, hip hop and electronic influences within their alternative rock formula, really shouldn’t appeal to me. Yet here I am, beginning to write a blog that is intended to praise the success and longevity of the four piece from California.
After forming in 1993 during the members’ High School years and releasing four independent efforts (consisting of three EPs and a full length entitled Old Friends from Young Years), Papa Roach were eventually signed by DreamWorks and consequentially found mainstream success with the release of their second album Infest in 2000. This album, lead by the single Last Resort, identified with the exploding nu metal scene, but featured a sound closer to that of hip hop than most of their chart topping contemporaries at the time.
The follow up, Lovehatetragedy, was released in 2002, and whilst singles She Loves Me Not and Time And Time Again still chanelled their nu metal sound, the rest of the album featured a lot less rapping and marked the beginning of a transition towards alternative rock.
Despite having an affinity for nu metal, Papa Roach failed to excite me as much as the likes of Korn, Linkin Park and Deftones with their early releases. However, when their fourth album, Getting Away With Murder, completed their move away from rap and nu metal influences, the band firmly secured my attention. The new Papa Roach was very melodic, and saw vocalist Jacoby Shaddix and co. focus more on vocal hooks and stronger guitar work, resulting in an album which truly showcases their songwriting abilities. As the first album after the decline of nu metal, Getting Away With Murder planted the seeds to their long lifespan, as it showcased their adaptability away from their home genre.
Papa Roach further established themselves away from nu metal with their fifth record, The Paramour Sessions. This effort continued in the same vein as its predecessor, but was ultimately much darker musically and lyrically, resulting from the suicide of Papa Roach himself (Jacoby Shaddix’s step-grandfather) and from the recording process within the Paramour Mansion. Despite the heavy subject material, The Paramour Sessions was a solid album and their most diverse release to date.
However, the album that most stands out to me in their discography is their fifth major-label release Metamorphosis. Papa Roach evolved once more, pushing their sound into the hard rock world after a surprise support slot with Guns N’ Roses on their Chinese Democracy tour. The record was much heavier than previous efforts; the simple guitar work of old had been completely transformed and tracks like Change Or Die, Hollywood Whore and I Almost Told You That I Loved You were fierce and bold.
Their next two efforts Time For Annihilation (essentially an EP of new material padded out with live tracks) and The Connection once again featured a new sound. The hard/alternative rock model was still mostly in tact, but just as elements of hip hop invaded their early sound, the synths and electronic beats of today’s pop environment were being fully embraced by Papa Roach. This meant the guitars could no longer be as prominent, but the electronic elements still provided a decent foundation for Shaddix’s heart felt lyrics, whilst this new style allowed Papa Roach to reach out once more into the mainstream’s eye and show they were Still Swingin’.
The most incredible thing about Papa Roach is that they have not only survived two decades, but managed to maintain a position of relevance in a rapidly changing musical scene. They have achieved this by adapting their musical style, but never really altering their sound, which is why they remain part of only a handful of the original nu metal bands that haven’t succumb to the turbulent waters of rock. A new album, entitled F.E.A.R. (Face Everything and Rise) is expected in early 2015 and is bound to rejuvenate a band that (quite rightly) refuses to disappear.
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