At the turn of the millennium, some interesting things were starting to happen in the world of Metal. To name but a few; Machine Head were making their transition from groove to nu metal, Slipknot were dominating everything in their path and fresh blood like Trivium and Bullet For My Valentine were just beyond the horizon. Then something else interesting happened. Papa Roach dropped their multi-platinum selling album ‘Infest’ in early 2000, for the first time in the band’s ten year career the whole world sat up and took notice. And deservedly so.
Over the next seventeen years, Papa Roach helped define a genre with their own unique blend of nu metal and rap. To this day, they have continued to experiment, altering their style from record to record as they saw fit. With their new album ‘Crooked Teeth’ set to drop in just a few weeks, the band have teased fans with a couple of interesting single choices such the erratically energetic (in the best possible way) title track “Crooked Teeth” and the explosive anthem “Help”, further stirring excitement and curiosity with what to expect next. Another new direction or a return to something previous? Or a little bit of the both?[metalwani_content_ad]
‘Crooked Teeth’ begins deceptively enough with “Break the Fall,” feeling like a fresh take on the bands earlier material revisited, and a great opening track in the bargain. By the time “My Medication” hits, the face-palm worthy “Hollywood Whore” era is instantly forgiven. Its deceivingly passive intro, a simple stripped back acoustic guitar and vocals dynamic, is nothing short of masterful, placed to lure the listener into expecting something quite safe. Until the song really kicks in, cementing itself as one of the album standouts, just ahead of the generically poppy “Born For Greatness” and written for radio “American Dream.” But the truly defining moment of the album still awaits.
“Sunrise Trailer Park” finds itself on the opposite side of that coin as Machine Gun Kelly raps his way as featured artist on this less than memorable song. While plaudits are earned for artist experimentation, sometimes, as in cases such as this, the experiment fails to produce any positive results. Disappointing, considering the continued build in momentum up to this point, with tracks like “Traumatic” take zero convincing. The album closer “None of the Above” may take listeners a spin or two to get used to, but it winds up to success once it gets going. Throughout, guitar work from Jerry Holton especially, instantly grips hard and is a fun listen from start to finish. With a handful of bonus tracks that make for some nice aftermath filler, the record comes to an end that is anything but anti-climactic.
But buried in the mix is the divine “Periscope” featuring Skylar Grey, a track that is quite simply in a league of its own, a track so good it transcends metal. Beautifully atmospheric, universally engaging lyrically, it is a musical journey and a duet that could stand among the best as vocalist Jacoby Shaddix and Grey pour their all into their deliveries. “Periscope” is unquestionably this album’s standout as well as a duet to be reckoned with.
In many ways, ‘Crooked Teeth’ comes as a welcome surprise. Post ‘Infest’, it seemed Papa Roach could do no wrong for a time. With each album the songs got better, the band tighter and the live shows a more charged and energetic experience. Then, yet again, something happened. Only this time we weren’t quite sure what. After ‘The Paramour Sessions’ (a cycle for the band cited by many fans as their favourite) album concluded, the band went in a direction some felt wasn’t quite as organic as they had been. The ‘Metamorphosis’ period, and even some thereafter, appeared to be edgy by design and failed to resonate with some fans on the same level earlier efforts did. With ‘Crooked Teeth’, Papa Roach look like they’ve picked up where many felt they left off at their best. It’s not all perfect, and there are some less than desirable moments here, but overall ‘Crooked Teeth’ is pure, powerful and poignant with all the good things that are Papa Roach.