22 March 2015

Papa Roach - F.E.A.R.

It seems to be nu-metal/2000 era band time to come back time, as there has been a quite a few old acts coming back with new albums.  The one that I have been tasked with reviewing is the ninth album from Vacaville, California residents Papa Roach.  They are mostly known for their major label debut 'Infest' (cleverly linked here) which went triple platinum in 2000.  Now Mr Richardson when he reviewed that album was impressed by the overall sound, even if the lyrical content was not to his tastes.  I have to say I broadly agree with some point he had, it was still something I used to listen to in the day but they seemed to be a little too generic at that point.  It should also be noted that I have listened to most of their albums in the interim and they have been variant degrees of style chasing, they have always been chasing that audience peak but with new style; it has only been when they actually gave in and done a metal with a nu-metal/hard rock vibe that they sort of work.  Some bands just are what they are - albeit either a nu-metal act or actress vanity project such as Scarlett Johansson and her album of Tom Waits covers.  You know what you are getting into from the beginning and that can be cool.  With this in mind I can say that before I have heard the full album I will note that the band have linked in some modern rock/dub step elements to their sound from the singles I have heard.  This is something I will get back to later on, but just putting that out there first of all; so let’s see how this ninth release fares....

Starting with "Face Everything and Rise" (or FEAR) and it is an explosion of synths, heavy guitars, lyrics about facing ones inner fears and break beat drums; to cut a long story short - it is exactly like quite a lot of modern rock numbers that you will hear in your local rock club, it has a lot in common with Pendulum and that whole rave/rock scene which was really over a few years back.  The song is not bad, but it is also trying to keep up with the Jones a little bit too hard for my tastes.  Second track "Skeletons" starts off quiet poor again, it just seems to sound as if they are stumbling towards the song.  But once the song gets started, it picks up steam and sounds a lot better than its beginnings.  It also ends up being a better song than "Face Everything and Rise", it is another self-pity anthem which Papa Roach seem to thrive on, but with a positive taint to the song it would have been much better than this; it was not for the falling apart to a stumble ending which is a shame for this number. The third track is called "Broken as Me" which is a love song about forgiveness and downward spiral love, musically it is similar to what Korn did on 'The Path of Totality" in that it is all sound effects and about two years behind the rest of the world. However, with that small bit of bitching out there; I have to say that the song is actually not too bad, nothing really amazing but it is better than some of their recent material.  The main problem is that it could have been better with a few less effects.  "Falling apart" follows a very similar path to "Broken as Me", I would if you stripped back all the effects would it sound better?  The basic pattern of the song sounds decent, but you don't know if there is anything that is not studio trickery on this song.  How much of it is pro-tooled, how much of it is the band's real talent?  It is a little frustrating, but onwards to the next song.

"Love Me Till It Hurts" is the fifth number on this album, the pattern of this album is followed to the letter here:  broken heart lyrics, massive effects, some powerful drumming and a song which is coming to a cinema near you this summer.  If it is sounded anything different to what I have heard over the years, I might be impressed; but at the moment I am wondering when the little kick for the album is coming.  Nothing is bad, but on the same token nothing is exciting either. "Never Having to Say Goodbye" is the Linkin Park number here, my lord I feel like it is a tribute to "Numb", "In The End" and "Valentine's Day" from the first three Linkin Park albums.  I am not hating it, but this type of song has been done many times before and also a lot better.  "Gravity" on the other hand is the first song I really do not like, I am not a fan this song at all; I can understand the cathartic need to get your sins out on a page, but we have heard this before from Papa Roach - also some of the self-destruction on here is from a guy who has had a lot of success and toured the world and talks about how his fame broke him and his relationships - that is what couples therapy is for, not for an album which is sold around the world; some things are meant to be kept behind closed doors. "War Over Me" is once again back to the norm for this album, back come the big effects for the instrumentation of the song, the lyrical delivery about self-worth and fighting with ones demons are out once more and it is all sound the same as the vast majority of this record.  It is still better than "Gravity" at least.

"Devil" is one of the album's slower numbers, the bass is actually strong on this number (it has been doing a bit of a 'Justice For All' on this record if I am honest) and whilst it is once again another number that is not doing anything wrong, once more I am wondering what this would have been without the effects board and studio trickery.  It would be interesting to see what this about sounds like without the gloss and effects.  However, "Warriors" is about 10 years too late to the party - a limp mixture of rave/rock combo metal with a lump of dub to make it sizzle; this is not working and it makes "Gravity" sound like "Kashmir" - awful.  Penultimate song "Hope For The Hopeless" is helped by the fact it is not "Warriors" and it is another song that I wonder what it could have been if it was without those pesky effects causing all the trouble (like a Scooby Doo investigation).  It is one of the better numbers on this album as it does not outstay its welcome and it helps that it sounds as if it is sick of sounding like a broken record...just.  Also the ending song "Fear Hate Love" is much like "Hope for the Hopeless" - but with the self-loathing back in full force.  Musically it is a really good number, a very fast and powerful number to end the song in that department; but the "poor me" card has been played too often here and it reduces the worth of the material.  It is probably a fitting ending to the album in some ways.

I feel like I am listening to the musical equivalent of a Michael Bay movie - all effects and not substance (no matter how heart felt the lyrics are at the end of the day). I would also feel sorry if it was not for the fact that this is being performed by people who could get this sort of emotional issue fixed at a moment’s notice with various resources available.  It could be a good rock album in here to be heard, the demos might be interesting if they are released before the pro-tools came into play.  But at the end of the day it is just a big effects album that is ruined by the sound of a man who we know has issues and it must be good to get them out; but it is time that some of these were put to rest with a professional assistance.  Maybe this is an advert that making it big does not help every problem, but it is just a disappoint album.

2 out of ten - If only there was some quality control (or maybe less effects)

Top track - Hope for The Hopeless

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Papa Roach website here

For our Spotify users, here is a link for you

And whilst we are on it, here is a link to stream the album on Deezer

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