Boasting an over 25-year long career, California’s Papa Roach have well and truly survived and reinvented themselves following the downfall of the 00s nu-metal boom that they were once upon a time a forerunner of. Now, in 2019, we have the band’s tenth full-length effort, ‘Who Do You Trust?’.
Considering that the group have dabbled with many influences over the years, this outing still manages to take unexpected turns and journeys into some unexplored territories for them. ‘Crooked Teeth’, the band’s previous effort, brought back Jacoby Shaddix‘s back from the grave, and it’s once again utilised here.
Elevate is, on the surface, a bit of gamble. It melds rhythmic guitars with trap instrumentation and, whilst it may sound too experimental, it works. Guitarist Jerry Horton maintains his signature playing style alongside cycling hi-hats and horn stabs, and the track itself highlights Papa Roach‘s career nurtured knack for stadium-sized choruses and chunky guitar chords.
Amongst the regular experimentation, the band also ensure their roots aren’t forgotten. ‘I Suffer Well’ injects some furious punk energy into the mix during the album’s second half. Blistering drums cut through buzzsaw guitars to create an unforgiving track that distills the chaotic side of the group.
Continuing to carry the energy from here, they launch into ‘Maniac’. Led by Tobin Esperance‘s growling bass line, Shaddix rips through a fevered verse with unexpected intensity. As the track jumps into its catchy chorus, thick guitars hold up synth melodies against hammering drums, and as it reaches its coda of “Living in my anxiety”, the tension builds to breaking point before abruptly ending.
Still, despite the pay-offs, as is expected with such unapologetic venturing into something new, there are moments where it doesn’t pay off too well. ‘Top Of The World’ leans right into somewhat cheesy and uninspired pop-rock territory, yet, considering the risks that are being taken, it’s still impressive that most of the tracks sit well together.
Whilst the album does hark back on occasion to the band’s well solidified formulas and approaches of the past, it ultimately ends on new ground with ‘Better Than Life’. Building on ambient soundscapes and blues tinged lead lines, the track shows a new side to the hard rock quartet that could arguably rest on past glory.
By taking risks and placing diligent focus on songwriting, Papa Roach have not only maintained and strengthened their position aside their contemporaries, but have also opened doors to some new areas to explore.