Papa Roach – Who Do You Trust? (Review)

Band: Papa Roach
Album: Who Do You Trust?
Genre: Alternative – Metal – Rock – Something
Country: USA
Release date: 18th of January
Released via Eleven Seven Records
Cover artwork © Eleven Seven Records 201

When I was young I had so many questions about everything. Finding answers at that time was probably close to impossible. However – I always knew – as every 6-year-old knows – that there was that one person I could always trust – my mum! Later on – of course – the questions became more difficult to be answered and my sources of knowledge began to gradually fade – and here I was, left alone with the question – who am I supposed to trust? The experienced quintet Papa Roach from Vacaville, California also wanted to face that big question on their latest and 10th release Who Do You Trust?

The latest release around vocalist Jacoby Shaddix was released on the 18th of January after their previous release Crooked Teeth from 2017. The major share of the audience is probably (or hopefully) acquainted with their first and groundbreaking release Infest. The last release I actively listened to was Getting Away With Murder from 2004. So as you can see – I haven’t heard from Papa for a while. So what can we say about that person we can actually trust? Let’s find out.

Papa Roach’s 10th release, just as their 9th release Crooked Teeth, was produced by Nicholas Furlong as executive producer. Some of you might know him from also producing bands such as Simple Plan or the mighty Basement (hell, I love that band). Beginning with the first track “The Ending” we can hear that Furlong is able to take care of a very clear production. On this track we can hear Papa Roach head off with a decent and straightforward sound, combining a catchy melody with a memorable chorus. All in all, this track opens up to get interested in some more.

The second track “Regenade Music” was, together with the title track “Who Do You Trust”, one of the lead singles released before the album. The sound again sticks to what we already heard in he first track. Apart from a lyrically weaker chorus, in which Shaddix repeatedly states that “this is renegade music,” the song itself also sticks to the catchy sound with which the album kicked off. The next track “Not The Only One,” though, introduces some kind of a new sound. In the beginning we are able to hear a nice clean guitar going along with Shaddix singing about bad situations in his life. This sounds very different from Papa Roach as I knew it – but it still sounds quite good. Reaching the chorus however – the eyes of the listener are opened about that ‘new sound’ the quintet wants to deal with.

When the chorus kicks in and we are faced with some fuzzy electronic-sounding guitars, which instantly sets you into a mid 2010s dubstep track and leaves you fully confused. Imagine me sitting on the train – actively listening – and then this part kicks in. People around me were probably busy dramatically figuring out what on earth I was listening to. The combination of the electronically-sounding drums with the awkward fx on the guitars is just terrible. Although the listener can definitely feel sympathy for the verse guitar – which is also blatantly poppy – the chorus kills the entire song. Additionally, after that chorus, we can also hear downtuned rapping vocals – where did that come from and… why?!

This awkward style of chorus can also be spotted on their fifth track “Elevate”, in which the electronic sound is emphasized even more while Shaddix repeatedly states that he wants to “elevate”. The choir at the beginning of that song is so damn decent – but the rest is an entire ruination. Furlong clearly over-produced the drum-sound on that track, which eventually only elevates the terrible sound of the song. At some points I felt as if the sound was quite close to The Chainsmokers. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like that band, but I don’t like that sound on Papa Roach. Later on we are again able to hear this weird sound on “Better Than Life”.

Apart from that weird rock-elecro I-don’t-know-how-to-name-it, the title track “Who Do You Trust” and “Top Of The World” show that the band tried to reconnect to their Nu Metal origin, when vocalist Shaddix begins rapping as if he wanted to imitate Rage Against The Machine. Lyrically speaking – with regards to the rhyme scheme – these parts are quite ok, but they sound as if they were dubbed into the track as some kind of a remix. The sound and the vocals just don’t harmonize. It feels somewhere in between trying to revive RATM and my dad rapping about going to bed early.

One glimmer of light on the album is the 7th track “Come Around”, in which the quintet eventually successfully embraces their poppy sound. The slow song clearly is the best one on the album. Here, it seems as if Papa Roach eventually found out how to deal with the sound they are messing with on the entire album. The electronic features of the album, though, are not present on this song. Another track that introduces a fresher sound of Papa Roach that goes along well is “Feel Like Home”. On this track, the drums are not recorded as if they were straight from a Roland 808. The chorus is also very catchy and all in all the song reminds of a later emo (the good emo) sound.

In between all of these songs there are also a few seconds of “Suffer Well”. On this track, Papa roach kicks off with a very thrashing and fast track that is also quite short. Although the sound is really nice and the listener instantly tries to connect to the energy on Infest, we eventually just feel left alone with that one track we didn’t know where it came from and can also find no more like that on the album. In the end and after having heard the lyrics of the entire album – we are yet again left alone and still don’t know who the fuck we are supposed to trust!

Progression is a major part for every band and it is necessary to find new sounds and new ways to play your music. Even clear cuts in your style are understandable – if we can feel that the band wants to connect to their new sound. On Who Do You Trust, however, it feels as if Papa Roach wanted to initiate a sound they were not actually able to deal with. All of those songs have positive parts, but there are features on almost every track that destroy the general impression. It might be possible that the quintet’s next release is able to embrace this sound more professionally – but this album feels like timidly dipping into several new sound aspects, which eventually produces an album that just doesn’t sound right.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

4 / 10

I am very interested in long-term Papa Roach fans and their opinions about the album. I already spotted gradings ranging from 3 to 8/9 stars, which depicts the difficulty to deal with this album. Do you see aspects I haven’t? Let me know in the comments!

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