Papa Roach -Metamorphosis
Record Label: Geffen/Interscope
Release Date: March 24, 2009
That's right -- Papa Roach, a.k.a. "Cut my life into pieces, this is my last resort, etc." The latest incarnation of dirty, grimy hard rock with black nail polish sheen eeks out a chart-topper every few years, churning out the same multi-layered production efforts every time -- and somehow, they catch the ears of hard rock enthusiasts, thanks to their loud, repetitive riffs and big, anthemic choruses. Some things never change.
The Northern California band came up through the late-nineties rap-rock TRL blowout sale, but eventually changed their game into the metal version of Nickelback, writing enough singles to peak on hard rock charts and get some mainstream attention every two years (remember "Scars"? Sure you don't). Now, ten years after their debut got them onto the Anger Management stage, Papa Roach continue to be one of the leaders in the current shiny-metal onslaught.
Metamorphosis is an enigma, since the term is defined as a "transformation," which would ultimately lead one to believe this album sounds nothing like their previous one... correct? Maybe the band just thought it sounded neat, because there certainly isn't any true change present, with 45 minutes of lackluster effort accompanied by mild theatrics. The album has a desire to sound epic (the marching drum introduction "Days of War" is a big indication of this), like it's playing on a battlefield with fireworks and cannons exploding all around them, the world on fire as the destruction is celebrated through song. Sadly, it's halted by the same old material, despite producer Jay Baumgardner's (Sevendust, Evanescence) bass-happy knob-turning. "Change or Die" is pretty standard, the first words being vocalist Jacoby Shaddix screaming out, "Let's go!" We know, we know -- you want to get us up on our feet and moshing to the metal... but do you always have to tell us? We can figure it out ourselves.
Like a carnival ringleader, Shaddix has a great presence on the microphone and can really howl -- he just never brings anything new to his vocal abilities, more concerned with showing off how powerful his arena-hall voice can be. "Hollywood Whore" sounds like it could have been stolen from Nikki Sixx's lyric book (oddly enough, he actually guests on "Into the Light"), another strip-club theme song -- it doesn't really fit in with the whole "battle call" theme. "I Almost Told You That I Loved You" is unmistakably a Buckcherry ripoff on all accounts, and "Lifelife" has a digitally-enhanced riff that gives the song an early-80's vibe -- the whole thing sounds like it could be a Mellencamp cover.
Guitarist Jerry Horton wants to restrain himself here and be more like Robert Smith, as Tony Palermo brings some big background beats to the mix -- there are just far too many turns where songs are hindered by one ingredient not fitting the recipe. The anthem ballad "Had Enough" is held back by Shaddix's slightly-pitchy vocals -- ask Randy Jackson, he would agree. The band then shifts to gutter-rock material they've done so many times before, sending a mixed signal as to where they're looking to go here. That's the largest drawback on Metamorphosis, which seems to dart in different direction at every moment, never settling on one path. With the final two tracks clocking in at over ten minutes, it actually opens up some doors for the sound Papa Roach may have wanted to go for. "Nights of Love" shows some soul, but only slips in the production aspect, as it could sound so much bigger. "State of Emergency" is Hoobastank-ish in the hook, but picks it up in the second half as it closes the album.
Big anthems, Jonas Brother album cover, lyrics that weave in & out of ambition-slash-unified hope and back-alley corners? Too many times the band takes one step forward and two steps back, at least showing some minimal signs of life in a dying genre built on repetition. Shaddix has a solid voice for this sound, and Horton seems to be discovering a new use for his distortion pedal, there are just far too many cliches in the ocean Papa Roach is trying to swim across, and the band can't seem to cope with their identity.
Good review, but I thought it was a great album but its coming from a big Papa Roach fan so I'm going to be a bit bias lol. Not as good as the old ones though, they need to find the right sound with the new drummer.