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Album Reviews : Papa Roach – F.E.A.R

By on February 5, 2015

PapaRoachFEARNine years. Nine years seems an almost agonizingly long time in the context of music, especially for hard rockers like Papa Roach, for whom nine years could have been a sentence to solitary confinement in the obscurity of the 90s/early 00s era. For nine years, it seems, Papa Roach have been languishing in the backwater trends of mainstream rock, leaving a certain section of their fan base and alienated wondering what the hell happened after Getting Away with Murder. However, some small semblance of their dignity may be redeemed through the efforts in their latest album, F.E.A.R (Face Everything and Rise).

The guitar work marks another shift in the band’s perpetual progression (or regression), moving away from the faux glam rock style of The Paramour Sessions and Metamorphosis, as well as shrugging off most of the power ballad-ish tinge of The Connection, opting for a more modern approach towards constructing riffs and songs. Tobin Esperance and Jerry Horton make a more mature endeavor in F.E.A.R, with their notable riffs being comparable to Red and Of Mice & Men, albeit not as well done. Their guitar work has evolved almost to parallel the post-hardcore trends of stop-starts, bouncing rhythms and invigorating choruses, all the while trying to maintain catchiness and accessibility. To their credit, the music also sports an electronic sensibility that enhances the memorability of songs because they haven’t overdone it. The level of technicality, or rather simplicity, is to be expected, but it does enough to keep the band above water.

Jacoby Shaddix does his best at belting out songs in his usual manner, which is fortunately unique enough from other vocalists not to sound contrived or copied, and his melodies certainly do the job. Again, moving away from the sleazy sunset strip style that Jacoby displayed in previous albums, his singing has become more sincere, thus blending in smoothly with the maturity of the band’s current fashion. Lyrically, the songs still leave a deal to be desired,  but they haven’t regressed past the point of hideous cliché, still skirting the boundary of personal problems, coping with adversity, and having great epiphanies (teenage ones). It still suits the band, and doesn’t do an injustice to the overall feel of the album.

Tony Palermo proves more confidently in F.E.A.R that he was more than adequate as a replacement for previous drummer Dave Buckner, providing a solid rebar for the band’s rhythms and accentuating the riffs well enough to give them more power than what they would possess otherwise. On occasion he shows brief moments of greater talent, which in the contemporary circles of bands such as Sevendust, Breaking Benjamin, and even Godsmack, should have been expected, not surprising.

There are a few tracks that show the band are still content to revel in their past transgressions, like “Love Me Till It Hurts,” which is a blatant formulaic attempt at simply appealing to their female adolescent fans, and “Devil,” a soft and somber recycling of previous melancholic songs like “Nights of Love” and “Forever.” These songs add nothing to the album, wallowing in self-pity and simplicity, providing nothing to inspire or engage listeners, most of whom would find these songs boring. The other anomaly is “Gravity,” featuring Maria Brink, which is strangely becoming a trend among certain hard rock and metal bands, as if Maria is being passed around like the prettiest boy in the prison block. The song attempts to crowbar in some verses from Shaddix’s hip hop/nu metal days, and Brink’s vocals really don’t add anything interesting into the mix; honestly it would not have made a difference without her appearance.

However, the remainder of the tracks on the album are still paced and performed well enough to maintain interest, including the eponymous “Face Everything and Rise,” “War Over Me,” and “Falling Apart.” The standout among the album is undoubtedly the catchy “Warriors,” which combines great vocal melodies, catchy lyrics, and a combination of emotive guitar work enhanced by the presence of synthesizers. “Broken as Me” rates highly as what will be an essential song in hard rock playlists, creating a cathartic and hard hitting soundscape that’s every bit as memorable as some of their earliest hits.

Overall, the band’s transition over to a more electronic-themed approach has benefited F.E.A.R greatly, and while there are remnants that still might make fans cringe, there’s enough on this album to please listeners and make replayability a must. Papa Roach have never been a band to innovate, being comfortable flirting with pop punk, hip hop, post grunge, and electronic, and for now they seem to have found their balance, facing previous backlashes and rising with the possibility of gaining new fans with F.E.A.R.

Band: Papa Roach
Album: F.E.A.R
Year: 2014
Genre: Hard rock/Alt metal
Label: Sony
Origin: USA

About

Benjen is a qualified teacher residing in the south-east suburbs of Perth. Benjen was introduced to hard rock at the age of 12 with Papa Roach's "Love-Hate Tragedy," and has developed a love for hard rock and metal since. He also has a keen interest in gaming and almost every fandom imaginable, from Doctor Who to Deadpool. He can be followed on Twitter @thetoadmode