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Papa Roach - 'Metamorphosis' Review

Papa Roach Try to Reinvent Themselves as Buckcherry ... Bad Idea

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papa roach metamorphosis

Papa Roach - 'Metamorphosis'

Photo courtesy Interscope.
Papa Roach named their most recent album Metamorphosis, and it’s hard not to read into the meaning of that title. A band that emerged in 2000 as a rap-rock unit before transitioning into a more straightforward rock group when that trendy genre fell out of favor, Papa Roach have been struggling of late to reinvent themselves, but from the sounds of Metamorphosis, rather than truly redefining their brand they’ve decided to glom onto others’. As a result, Metamorphosis is a generic hard rock album with little inventiveness.

Stripper-Rock That Doesn't Rock

The album cover and band photos that accompany Metamorphosis seek to emphasize how badass Papa Roach are – frontman Jacoby Shaddix’s face is frozen in mid-scream in just about every shot. In addition, Metamorphosis leans heavily on bad-attitude rock songs that are chock full of furious guitars and Shaddix’s hollered vocals. As a sonic model, Papa Roach seem to have adopted the stripper-rock aesthetic of bands like Buckcherry and Hinder, and consequently Metamorphosis is burdened with tracks where Shaddix goes off on women while the rest of the band tries desperately to rawk as hard and as loud as possible. (Shaddix’s hoarse voice even slightly recalls Buckcherry frontman Josh Todd’s.) But where at least Buckcherry have a little style to their approach, Papa Roach just seem desperate, as if they’re trying to prove to their audience how much they really, really, really love hard rock.

A Lot of Venom, Not a Lot of Insight

Lyrically, Papa Roach have never been particularly insightful, but with the music on Metamorphosis being so mediocre, it calls more attention to Shaddix’s feeble subject matter. “Hollywood Whore” has to do with a spoiled Paris Hilton-like socialite, but Shaddix’s angry invective doesn’t feel very convincing – if anything, it makes you wonder if he’s mostly angry because the unnamed woman wouldn’t give him the time of day. Metamorphosis also contains moments that address the crumbling state of the world, but again here, Shaddix has nothing original to offer. “State of Emergency” paints an impressionistic portrait of random violence, crime, war, self-doubt and inequality, but the lyrics merely grab ripped-from-the-headlines catch phrases without adding a unique human dimension to them. On Metamorphosis, Shaddix spits a lot of venom, but his anger isn’t enlightening or inspiring – he’s just petulant and whiny.

Papa Roach's 'Metamorphosis' - Bottom Line

Occasionally, Papa Roach find a strong melody, like on “Had Enough” and “Carry Me,” but even these songs feel perfunctory. The band reteamed with producer Jay Baumgardner for Metamorphosis – the first time they’ve worked together since Papa Roach’s 2000 breakthrough record, Infest. Even if you detested Papa Roach back then, at least their rap-rock had noticeable juice to it. Perhaps hoping to recapture the magic by bringing Baumgardner back into the fold, Papa Roach just sound exhausted on Metamorphosis, a glum snapshot of a band seemingly out of ideas.

Best 'Metamorphosis' Tracks:

“Carry Me” (Purchase/Download)
“Had Enough” (Purchase/Download)
“Change or Die” (Purchase/Download)

Release date – March 24, 2009
DGC Records/Interscope Records

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