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 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