Is it really fifteen years since Papa Roach cemented their place in rock folklore by writing the first song to be adapted as an ode to Italian flatbread?
Joking aside, they have at times struggled to come to terms with the early career success of Infest.
This their eighth studio album in just shy of two decades sees the not yet entirely wrinkly rockers embrace the bane of die-hard metalheads, electronica. Rather than diving in head first though they’ve been very selective about where, when and how the synth and samples are used. The result is a balanced and powerful release with a few surprises thrown in to keep things nice and fresh. The attention to detail has been even-handed which means fans of the more traditional won’t feel left out by thinking that Jacoby Shaddix and co have overlooked the basics. In fact some of the stronger material on offer here are the balls out rockers.
Skeletons reminds you of the band as they were just after they hit the big time. Crushing riffs and masses of energy will see this song become a live favourite. Broken As Me is crying out to be released as a single, it has that air of music television hit about it that record companies love. It’s not just one or two songs either, you get a ready supply of well written rockers that bodes well for any forthcoming tour. Where the band have decided to explore other avenues they’ve mostly got it right. I’m not sure about Never Have To Say Goodbye though, it drags a bit compared to what else is on offer here but is too up tempo for people to get their lighters out for.
A guest appearance by In This Moment’s Maria Brink on Gravity proves to be a highlight while taking on a new direction at the same time. The semi rapped intro and clever use of Brinks unique voice as a compliment rather than main ingredient shows an adventurous side without feeling the need to ram the left field stuff down fans throats. It’s a smart move which will allow the band to expand their repertoire without alienating too many of the people most likely to buy the album. Also with the fickle music market as it is, choosing a guest from a fast rising act could prove fruitful from a fan crossover point of view too. In the States In This Moment are hot property right now and that success looks like it will happen this side of the Atlantic too.
F.E.A.R. passes muster as a release from one of the most enduringly popular bands around, it has enough of the Papa Roach sound to keep old followers happy whilst subtly breaking new ground. What it doesn’t have is an anthem. Crowd pleasers maybe, at least songs that will stand up well in the mid term, but it has no pizza song, just a lot of tasty garlic bread.
Bands can only dream of a signature tune that is still played at rock clubs globally for decades and Papa Roach’s came early in their career. Fortunately they didn’t dwell on that golden moment and as a result continue to make albums that people want to buy. F.E.A.R. then is more than worthy of opening your wallet for, it sounds great, even without the pepperoni.