April 5, 2022 Papa Roach – Ego Trip (Album Review)
It’s not the time for “comfort or conformity,” notes Papa Roach Frontman Jacoby Shaddix. His words are a promise that the band’s latest, Ego Trip, holds nothing back, sonically or spiritually, as the quartet carries the flag for a movement that refuses to see love and hope as a last resort. Get on board when they deliver their epic eleventh studio album on Friday, April 8, 2022, thanks to New Noize Records in partnership with ADA Worldwide (WMG).
But first, let’s rewind back to the year 2000 when a little-known Northern California band came out of nowhere to infest the musical landscape with their brand of Rap-Rock. At the time, no one could have foreseen that 22 years later these Grammy-nominated punks would have in excess of 20 million records sold worldwide. Continuously on top of the world, they have continued recording and touring behind a monumental 10 albums over the past 25 years, including 2004’s Getting Away With Murder, 2009’s Metamorphosis, 2017’s Crooked Teeth, and, most recently, 2019’s Who Do You Trust?.
Faith certainly hasn’t come easy over the past three years. Since we last heard from Shaddix and his bandmates—Guitarist Jerry Horton, Bassist Tobin Esperance, and Drummer Tony Palermo—a global pandemic has risen to further divide our world. Now, with this precarious peace potentially doomed by recent violence perpetrated against Ukraine, tranquility appears to be a dream of the past. Needless to say, 2022 has felt more like a lovehatetragedy than an Ego Trip.
However, if any band can deliver catharsis, inspire individual thought, ignite hope, and unite listeners through the universal language of music, Papa Roach (P-Roach if yer nasty) is an exceptional contender. Like a prizefighter, the foursome is about to step into the ring with 14 tracks built on their trademark foundation of passion, perseverance, and defiance.
It doesn’t exactly seem like a shock that, with Ego Trip, Papa Roach confronts many of the internal and external issues that anyone living in 2022 is forced to face daily. Through massive choruses meant to build themselves a home inside listeners’ hearts, the quartet is quick to make it clear that we cannot allow our overwhelming times to drag us down (“Kill The Noise”) and drive us to madness. Catharsis, they suggest, can only be found when we’re willing to silence the naysayers inside our own minds (“Cut The Line”) and refuse to bow to pressure to follow the herd.
A brilliant offering, “Dying To Believe” tackles the venomous division and hatred that has managed to bloom throughout the past decade. “Everybody has everybody in a chokehold,” Shaddix sings, using his lyrical finesse to point a finger at each individual who is more than willing to feed into the discord. Be better, do better, he seems to plead with listeners amid the sweaty Hip-Hop of “Stand Up,” while simultaneously urging fans to keep searching and never settle for less than their worth (“Always Wandering”).
If you’re hoping for something a little less Self Help aisle, allusions to the pandemic arise in the experimental “Bloodline,” but it’s the dark Rap-Rock stomper “Swerve” that steps furthest outside the album’s uplifting framework. With help from Fever 333’s Jason Aalon Butler and Rapper Sueco, Papa Roach injects some swag and sax into their thoughtful Ego Trip.
In truth, this coloring outside the lines is a staple of the album. From the funky bass of “Liar” to melodies that evoke Chester Bennington on “Killing Time,” the band understands how to pair disparate elements that intertwine to create undeniable bangers. And none of these wildly unique offerings are ever mirror-image twins, with the acoustic ballad “Leave The Light On” bordering on Alt-Country and the likes of “No Apologies” leaning towards a Pop Rock feel.
Of course, Papa Roach has made a powerful career of defying expectations and joyfully flaunting their genre fluidity. And throughout the past nearly three decades, it hasn’t always been considered an asset to sport a ‘signature sound’ that is actually the lack of one. So, it’s abundantly true on many levels when Shaddix sings “These broken wings have traveled far.”
And yet, Ego Trip’s loving homages to P-Roach’s past offer a sense of coming full circle. Through personal turmoil and external strife, this is a group of men who have managed to do the impossible: find catharsis in noise, then turn that noise into peace. By pulling fans out of self-seclusion to join an ever-growing fanbase that is dying to believe, Papa Roach has created something more.
In this, Ego Trip continues to wave an already familiar flag, but one whose colors shine a little brighter and sentiments dig a little deeper, offering an alternate glimpse of its torchbearers. For this, Cryptic Rock gives P-Roach’s latest 5 out of 5 stars.