Monday, 1 October 2012

Review: Papa Roach - The Connection

 If ever there was a band that could teach you a lesson on what to do after your original style begins to die out, it's Papa Roach. Entering the world of music with their hook heavy collection of rap rock that was Infest at a time when the nu metal genre hit it's second more commercial wave, the band realised that this wasn't a style they could stick to, and sure enough as less attention and credibility went towards nu metal after it turned into something fairly awful, the band changed becoming certified carriers of modern day hard rock. It goes without saying that many people won't believe this and forever associate them as the rowdy band with that Last Resort song but those people will go on without realising how relevant a band Papa Roach manage to be. They won't become a part of The Connection, I guess.

 Even for a band that's been around for as long as Papa Roach, the connection still resembles a bold and brave outing for the Sacramento quartet. While 2009's Metamorphosis saw the band comfortably lay their typically catchy and uplifting hard rock songs in a world of sleaze and filth, this latest effort sees the massive riffs of Jerry Horton and mass vocal cries of Jacoby Shaddix immersed within a backdrop of more graceful and dramatic synthesized backdrops that suggests much attention being paid to the changing of music as a whole throughout the band.

 At first this makes the dramatic space age intro track Engage sound pompous, but when the rest of the album unfolds and one can hear the absorbing synthesizer backdrops that make up much of Silence is the Enemy, the dramatically bold Give Me Back My Life and the glowing Leader of the Broken Hearts, you can realise that this use of synthesizers is only the beginning of what turns out to be something huge.

 The very best moments in which these electronic moments take the forefront is in the hopelessly uplifting and emotion packed hard rock balladry of Before I Die, one of the album's highlights with it's rising of graceful dance pop electronics that fits perfectly with the Horton's pounding hooks and Tobin Esperance's driving basslines. When the synthesizers are mainly relied on for closer As Far As I Remember, it's a surprising chance to hear Papa Roach at their quietest, at their most soothing and peaceful, which is not something you're going to hear of a band like them often. And in this smoothness, a band known for being rowdy nu metal kids show that plenty of grace can be held in what they do as well.

 Of course, there's definitely a lot of bang for you buck to be found on The Connection. Straight from the album's real opener Still Swingin' the band play with a bruising display of alternative metal chugging and indestructibility. Still Swingin' itself actually shows the band returning briefly to their rap rock roots, albeit in a harsher, grittier form than Infest could have prepared us for. A similar notion can be picked up on Won't Let Us Up with a more hopelessly uplifting result, but with the likes of Breath You In and Not That Beautiful, the band can certainly still let their hair down and pack in the adrenaline.

 With that, The Connection is once again a sign of Papa Roach doing what they do best a little better. It's a further sign of progression that isn't afraid to re-visit where they came from at points and shows an awareness that one style of music can't just be stuck to in their busy ways of recording. And with this constant changing in dynamic, Papa Roach really can prove that they're one of the most expansive and forward thinking names in hard rock and go on leaving those who credit them for being those Last Resort Guys in the dust.

Papa Roach's The Connection is out now via Eleven Seven Music. The band will play at the O2 Academy, Brixton on the 10th-11th December with Stone Sour.

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