From the moment the first snippets of new Papa Roach material surfaced last year, sections of fans were concerned about the potential new direction the band’s eighth album could see them take. It’s a sense of trepidation that has seemed to become par for the course amongst the fanbases of turn of the century nu-metal, especially within the class of 2000. ‘F.E.A.R.’, however, puts all those fears to rest from the word go, assuring all who had felt the slightest iota of doubt that 2015 would be rung in by the same old Papa Roach smashing out the same old level of musical thunder – for better or worse, and with a few new tricks up their sleeves.
It’s the title track that kicks the album off, and ‘Face Everything and Rise’ is a resounding statement that the band aren’t ones to mellow with age. Vocalist Jacoby Shaddix is on form and instrumentally, the quartet are not struggling to stay true to old sounds as they continue to evolve with the times. ‘Skeletons’, meanwhile, is on par with the opening number in demonstrating the way that Papa Roach have grown into a truly anthemic band in the past decade and a half, with ‘F.E.A.R.’ certainly not shy on chucking out tracks with a potential for inducing carnage in a live setting. The band go three for three with last month’s single ‘Broken As Me’, and ‘Falling Apart’ is similarly dressed to kill; the first half of the album alone shaping up to ensure that Papa Roach have kicked off 2015 on a high.
The “same old Papa Roach” vibe, unfortunately, does not always spell positivity, and ‘F.E.A.R.’ is a typical Papa Roach album right down to the typical weak point nestled within. Since the major label debut of ‘Infest’ the band have shown a remarkable knack for putting out consistently strong albums, but after fifteen years the search for a record truly unwavering in quality has still not yet succeeded. Just like ‘lovehatetragedy’ had ‘She Loves Me Not’ and Getting Away With Murder’ had ‘Scars’, it’s ‘Love Me Till It Hurts’ that sends the house of cards tumbling down for ‘F.E.A.R.’ It’s not necessarily true to label it a bad track, but it’s certainly the first knock to the momentum the album has generated thus far.
‘Never Have to Say Goodbye’ doesn’t exactly escape unscathed either, with “solid” the nicest word that could be used to describe a piece that doesn’t underperform, but doesn’t exactly serve to restore full power to the Papa Roach machine either. It’s not until ‘War Over Me’, in fact, that the four-piece are really rolling once more. ‘Devil’ and ‘Warriors’ help the effort to send the record out on the high that the opening flurry deserves, with the former’s chorus working wonders and the latter doing more than enough to wrap things up with a bang.
Another trait continued by the veteran quartet is the tendency to tuck some real gems into the bonus tracks. ‘Hope for the Hopeless’ is filled with the same power that dominated much of the core album, and arguably the best vocal performance that ‘F.E.A.R.’ provides outright. ‘Fear Hate Love’ is an equally strong advertisement for the record’s deluxe edition, sending the whole thing out on an even greater high than ‘Warriors’ achieves. It’s ultimately the continuation of Papa Roach’s personal brand of defying the belief that turn of the century nu-metal bands hold no place fifteen years on. With the gradually approaching their twenty-fifth anniversary, there is no sign of the buck stopping yet.
‘F.E.A.R’ by Papa Roach is out now on
Eleven Seven Music.
Words by Antony Lusmore (@Metacosmica_