Papa Roach. Just the name of these guys conjures up memories of reversed red baseball caps, boiler suits and fat bassists; cornerstone components to bands of the ill-fated ‘genre’, Nu-Metal. The ‘genre’ which seemed to be forced upon any band that didn’t play indie music between 1998 and 2002. Perhaps though, in regards to the public’s eye, Papa Roach epitomise what’s now reflected on as Nu-Metal. One hit that fused hip hop and metal; memorable only for rekindling memories of adolescent rebellion. Many may believe that in memory is the safest place for them to exist, but don’t be fooled in to thinking that this is their first project since the golden age of guitars and skateparks.(Components that can be traced through to Avril Lavigne; possibly the corporate nail in Nu-Metal’s coffin!)
Papa Roach have been regularly releasing new material and touring to a devoted fan base since. A fan base likely to rapidly increase in size off of the back of their latest release The Connection. After a suspenseful intro the listener is slapped round the chops with fourteen tracks that work, not only as songs, but as an album. The opening track and lead single Still Swingin is almost akin to an airline safety message, preparing you for what might happen throughout the album, a barrage of aggressively spat rap bars leading on to an awesome pairing of bridge and chorus. Not only can Papa get angry, but Mr Roach has got a pair of lungs on him too! A long way from cutting his life in to pieces, he’s delivering a brilliantly sung and exceptionally produced chorus not dissimilar to those by Forever The Sickest Kids, but doing it over what is undoubtedly metal… Until the woomp of a Dubstep break shakes your stomach and the guitar stabs find themselves stuck to a web of electro synths.
At this point the initial reaction compares to Korn’s latest album The Path Of Totallity produced entirely by Dubstep artists. This comparison, however, is not fully justified, as where Roach’s fellow Nu-Metal veterans came across as desperate to make something different, The Connection comes across as the album that Papa Roach have been trying to make throughout the whole of their nineteen year career. There are no gimmicks with this album, the use of electrolysis occurs only in the tracks that seem to warrant it, in particular Before I Die and Won’t Let Up. Use of rap is sporadic and features only in tunes that suit it, such as Not That Beautiful. And while the lyrics are at some points cliche throwbacks to teenage poetry, lines like “your heart is beating me to death everyday” contain a wistful angst that puts a smile on your face far quicker than it makes you want to break stuff.
There is however one wobble on the album, the fourth track Silence Is The Enemy bears a striking resemblance to Faint by the band that are arguably Nu-Metals most successful offspring, Linkin Park.
On reflection The Connection can be compared to the modern efforts of Shinoda et al, and in all honesty Papa Roach have made something far more interesting, they have fused Rock, Hip-hop, Metal and Punk, (sound familiar?), but laced it beautifully with Electro and Dubstep. Could this be Nu-Nu-Metal? It might be time to dig out your cargo pants with all the useless dangly bits, and chain your wallet to your belt again!