2015 is already gearing up to be a good year for alt-rock stalwarts Papa Roach – not only is it the 15th Anniversary of their indignant, major label debut Infest, it’s also the year they release their eighth album F.E.A.R. (Face Everything and Rise). It’s hard to tell the Californian four piece have been around for the better part of 20 years, with this new album harbouring an energy usually reserved only for the sprightliest of new acts.
Producers Kevin and Kane Churko do a decent job of interlocking Jerry Horton’s punchy, in-your-face guitars with Tony Palermo’s polyrhythmic drums and frontman Jacoby Shaddix’s venomous yet highly melodic vocals, whilst bleeding in EDM inspired synthesisers, albeit perhaps a little superficially.
Their previous album The Connection showcased a variety of genres and stylistic elements the band were capable of incorporating into their sound, and there is certainly a feel of that stylistic variety on this album, although it seems to have been reigned in a little. There’s some experimentation with electronic sounds but it’s not without trepidation, the electronic element seems almost an afterthought, used most effectively on tracks Warriors as well as on title track F.E.A.R.
As is to be expected, lyrically the album is pseudo-personal, using broad themes of love, anger, hatred to convey general emotions without ever really latching onto a specific theme or concept. Thematically the album attempts to use the concept of “fear” to drive the music and it works to an extent, with the rhythm, tempo and (that word again) energy delivering a record full of adrenaline and vigour – without much respite. Not until track number six Never Have to Say Goodbye do the band relent somewhat; dialling back the tempo slightly whilst retaining the stylistic elements used in the album thus far.
Gravity harkens back to Papa Roach’s nu metal roots, with Shaddix rapping for the only time on the album and a highly refreshing, emotionally drenched guest vocal spot from Maria Brink of In This Moment. There is one other instance of rapping on F.E.A.R, coming on the aforementioned track Warriors, with Slaughterhouse member and longtime Eminem associate Royce da 5’9″ appearing briefly to lend his rap skills.
This record isn’t perfect however, it’s a very solid eighth effort from the veteran (is it okay to call them veteran?) rockers, and is sure to please their existing fanbase with its familiar feel and dark lyrical themes.