My favorite song on Papa Roach’s new album, lovehatetragedy is “Walking Thru Barbed Wire”, about the death of singer, Jacoby Shaddix’s dog. Terrifying rendered, the song is all three ideas contained in the album’s title rolled into one. This poor damn dog stumbles through barbed wire, only to come to rest, battered and bleeding, on Shaddix’s bed, where he is eventually discovered. “Bloody face / Kissing death / Walking through barbed wire”, Shaddix sings, pleading for the ability to see his pet one last time. The emotion pouring from Shaddix is heartbreaking, and even more so when coupled with images of a dog bleeding to death atop his master’s bed with a torn up face.
I want to cry just thinking about it.
While the song aptly illustrates the album’s title, it also signifies a moving on for the band. Gone (thank God) is any sign of the rock/rap convergence fuelling their 2000 release, Infest, leaving room for some hard-rockin’ tracks, and while a slight portion of these tracks retain guitars that drown out vocals, overdone guttural screaming and “Fuck you! Fuck me! Fuck off!” lyrics, I’d consider this a progression.
Up there with “Walking Thru Barbed Wire” to mark such progression are “Decompression Period” and “Black Clouds”. Both great big rock ballads, the latter employs all the right elements of a rock opera to build what is a major departure for the band. Melody remains with “Born With Nothing, Die With Everything” and “Singular Indestructible Bullet”, getting frenzied and frantic with “M-80”, “Life is a Bullet” and bonus track, “Never Said It”.
These songs are all neatly put together; proof enough that the band is fully capable of delivering intelligent, listen-able heavy rock. Shaddix’s voice is competent when delivering the head-bangers, and equally so when toned down for something a little more introspective.
Shaddix and his fellow band members have attempted something far more mature on lovehatetragedy. Musically the entire collection features a far more organic vibe, and, lyrically it’s a bit more grown up with Shaddix raiding his own personal diary-of-the-mind to explore his turbulent relationship with his wife on “She Loves Me Not” (“Disassociate / So I don’t have to lose my head / Situation leads to agitation / Will she cut me off?”) and “Time and Time Again” (“Yes I did it / And I’ll do it again / It doesn’t matter / That I am your best friend”), before hitting out at the world in general on the 9/11-inspired title track (“Hate and destruction / Crashed down on our world / The stars and the stripes / The boys and the girls”).
Thus, the new Papa Roach have managed to construct an impressive album. After falling into the same category as Korn and Limp Bizkit for so long, “P-Roach” are beginning to come into their own, stripping down a lot of the gloss of Infest (which surely came from the excitement of it being their first major label release) returning to their rock’s roots.
lovehatetragedy is not the definitive work of Papa Roach’s career by any means, and it’s probably not going to be anywhere near as successful as Infest, but it’s a hard-hitting, funked-up step in the right direction.