Troubled US rockers' back-to-basics follow up to 'Infest'
When the annals of nu-metal are written, there will be few bands more central to the genre than Papa Roach. Sure, they’re not the most artful band to walk the modern rockscape: frontman Coby Dick – a reformed bedwetter and struggling alcoholic, with a headful of demons and pockets full of snotty tissues – isn’t the sharpest tool in the box. But for moshers wise to Fred Durst’s plot to peddle a brand of rock as ideologically alternative as Starbucks, the terrifyingly honest, self-lacerating confessionals that characterised Papa Roach‘s debut album ‘Infest’ made them able heroes to a fucked-up generation.
On Papa Roach‘s second album, ‘Lovehatetragedy’, the landscape has changed, but the conclusions remain the same. Coby Dick might have dropped the pseudonym, reverting to his real name, Jacoby Shaddix, but his muse holds firm. If ‘Infest’ was all about the atmosphere of frustration, loneliness, and substance abuse born of a dysfunctional, poverty-stricken childhood, ‘Lovehatetragedy’ is all about the atmosphere of frustration, loneliness, and substance abuse when you hit the road for two years as a member of the hottest new major-label rock band on the planet. Let the doomy ‘Black Cloud’ list Papa Roach‘s favourite topics: “I’m tired of running/It’s time to face my demons/Confession/Depression/This life of second-guessing.”
There is angst by the barrowload! But surprisingly little actual nu-metal. Because only ‘She Loves Me Not’ and ‘Time And Time Again’ really hark back to the rap-rock template that formed the backbone of ‘Infest’. Instead, Papa Roach have pulled a similar trick to the one Slipknot spun for their second alubm, ‘Iowa’ – they’ve regressed, delving into rock’s past: mid-period Metallica, Faith No More, and of course, Black Sabbath. Often, it’s a successful tactic. The opening ‘M-80 (Explosive Energy Movement)’ is barely recognisable as Papa Roach, fielding two-and-a-half minutes of rippling punk thrash, while at the other end of the spectrum, the excellently morose ‘Decompression Period’ finds Shaddix sobbing fraught chunks of break-up cliche over a drained, sombre drum-rattle, as clinical stabs of heavily-treated guitar shriek in the background. “I need some space/ To clear my head/ To think about my life,” he sings, tensing for the knockout blow, “With or without you…”
Big, bawling tantrums. Hefty sobs. Quivering lips. Compared to the intellectual scab-picking practised by the current emo invasion, Papa Roach‘s simple articulacy sounds refreshingly primal. “Dude!”, says ‘Lovehatetragedy’, all streaming eyes and snotty sleeves, “It hurts!” And that’s basically it. No post-nu-metal. No nu-post-hardcore. Just a solid, honest, rock album. What more do you want? Because if that’s not enough, Papa Roach just aren’t the right band.