March 16, 2021 Papa Roach – Greatest Hits Vol. 2: The Better Noise Years (Album Review)
It’s been nearly three decades since Papa Roach formed, and 21 years since they delivered their epic sophomore LP. Whatever categorization you decide to slap on the band—Hard Rock, Alt Metal, Active Rock, Nu Metal—the fact remains that they have remained prolific throughout their impressive career, consistently delivering a diverse mélange of sounds to keep fans on their feet. But every now and then a group should take a moment to appreciate where they’ve been, and the quartet is ready to do just this with Greatest Hits Vol. 2: The Better Noise Years, which arrives on Friday, March 19, 2021, obviously in thanks to Better Noise Music.
Of course, we all know that Papa Roach hail from Northern California. It would be their second studio offering and major label debut, 2000’s Infest, chock-full of the band’s then signature blend of Rap and Hard Rock, that would unintentionally place them at the center of a burgeoning new sub-genre called Nu Metal. But there have been many tour bus rides since those days, and today’s band—Vocalist Jacoby Shaddix, Guitarist Jerry Horton, Bassist Tobin Esperance, and Drummer Tony Palermo—has evolved, though the foursome continue to flaunt the infectious Punk Rock attitude that won over fans way back when.
And those listeners will no doubt remember the songs on Greatest Hits Vol. 2: The Better Noise Years all too well. Highlighting their decade-long signing with Better Noise Music, their second greatest hits package does not skimp on quantity: with 21 tracks, it represents the stories told through 2010’s Time for Annihilation: On the Record & On the Road, 2012’s The Connection, 2015’s F.E.A.R., 2017’s Crooked Teeth, and 2019’s Who Do You Trust?. With 14 remastered offerings, one featured guest appearance, four remixes, two live and acoustic rarities, and a partridge in a pear tree, this is a collection geared toward die-hard Papa Roach fans—but one that is likely to appeal to anyone new to the band, as well. (Although, we do question how you can be ‘new’ to this Rock-n-Roll institution.)
The remastered songs that encompass the bulk of the LP are some of the band’s best material culled from their past five albums; an eclectic array of selections that perfectly illustrate where Papa Roach has been and where they are headed. From the opening triumph of rocker “Born For Greatness” and the Imagine Dragons-esque “Elevate,” to the Djent-y influences on “Falling Apart” and the enormous sound of “Who Do You Trust?,” the boys are careful to make choices that are cohesive but also paint all the textures of their diverse sound profile. There are show-stopping duets (“Gravity” featuring In This Moment’s Maria Brink, “Periscope” featuring Skylar Grey), anthemic sing-alongs (“Still Swingin’”), melodic rockers (“Help”), and more.
Then there’s “The Ending,” which is about to receive a new lease on life thanks to the upcoming Horror-Thriller flick The Retaliators. Slated for a June 2021 release, the film features Shaddix acting alongside the likes of Tommy Lee, Zoltan Bathory and Ivan L. Moody of Five Finger Death Punch, Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills, Craig Mabbitt of Escape the Fate, and more. And if you’re anxious for news on Shaddix’s acting debut, well, the film’s star and producer, Michael Lombardi, has gone on the record to note, “I was blown away by Jacoby’s work as an actor. He was incredibly committed, and I’m excited for his fans to see him embody a character that is so different from himself. I think everyone will be impressed with his performance.”
Aside from the film, no doubt fans are apt to be excited for the single “Broken As Me,” which now features vocals from Asking Alexandria frontman Danny Worsnop. But there’s more! Next being the remixes, three of which come to us via Aelonia. Formerly Dr. Cool X Babe, Aelonia is a Pop Metal duo comprised of Inna and Jake Pitts, he being best known as the lead guitarist of Black Veil Brides. The husband and wife team tackle Papa Roach’s material with finesse, adding a fun, Trip Hop spark to “Elevate,” while taking a more atmospheric synth approach to “Help.” And it’s pretty safe to say that they have managed to bolster the already triumphant “Top of the World” to victorious new heights.
The fourth and final remix, however, is the work of Cymek. Here the already bold, attention-grabbing “Born For Greatness” gains syncopated emphasis and soaring synth orchestration that is a more daring and experimental take on the source material than any of Aelonia’s offerings, but it somehow works perfectly, offering an intriguing counterpoint to the other remixes.
Ultimately, they leave the intimate acoustic tracks for last, providing fans with a perfect moment to decompress and take it all in. Recorded live from the YouTube Studios in New York City, for “Face Everything and Rise” there’s a new urgency of purpose given to the song’s lyrics, and the live format allows Shaddix’ unadulterated vocal performance to shine. Similarly, the emotional heft of “Leader of the Broken Hearts” hits doubly hard in this setting, leaving the entire LP to end on a moving note.
Obviously we each already have our own favorites from the selected tracks (“Born For Greatness,” “Gravity,” “Periscope”), and nothing here is apt to suddenly spark a complete change of mind. But it’s a fun trip back in time and a reminder of Papa Roach’s immense oeuvre of eclectic material—and this is only representative of the past decade! If you’re somehow new to the band, Greatest Hits Vol. 2: The Better Noise Years is the perfect overview, like a CliffsNotes for one of Rock’s most enduring favorite acts. Would it be cliché to say that Papa Roach was destined for glory? Don’t hate us for being nerds, Cryptic Rock gives Greatest Hits Vol. 2: The Better Noise Years 4 of 5 stars.