EGO TRIP, the 11th studio album for California’s PAPA ROACH, was released in April 2022 and has been met with mixed reviews across the board, but the majority appear to be positive. The album reached #115 on the U.S Billboard chart, whilst on the UK Rock and Metal chart it has tipped in at #3.
Since coming together in 1993, PAPA ROACH has been very consistently churning out albums approximately every 2-3 years, with some being very successful and others only moderately so.
This album, in my opinion, has the makings of being one of the former. It has quite the mix of tracks on it, and at times can seem a touch disjointed, but it somehow comes together. If you go into it wanting everything to sound like “Last Resort”, you may be a little disappointed, but if you go into it open-minded and ready for a little diversity, mixed with some old-school sounds, then you are really going to like it.
Straight out of the gate the album opens with “Kill The Noise”, which is a punchy angsty track, with a heavy riff. The track was the second single released from the album back in September 2021, and if Spotify plays are anything to go by, seems to be the most popular. Lyrically it runs with the very prevalent theme of PAPA ROACH’s music, which talks about inner demons, and in particular in this track about the internal rage and voices of said demons, which are just becoming too loud, hence the title “Kill The Noise”. I was drawn to the song immediately and found it very catchy and relatable.
The second track “Stand Up” was the fourth single released from the album, and was released in January this year. It has very much the Nu-Metal sound that has appeared so often in the back catalogue. I get a very RATM meets Sevendust meets BMTH vibe. Weird mix, I know but that’s what comes to mind when listening to this track. Touching on the subject matter of oppression, and the need to encourage us all to “Stand Up”. Definitely a great track though and a stand-out for me.
The first single from this album, and the third track, is “Swerve” which features Jason Aalon Butler from Fever333 and rapper Sueco. While this totally contradicts Jacoby Shaddix’s statement in 2004 that the “rap was gone”, this track is well-produced and catchy, it has a funky little sax bridge, and is likely to appeal to those who prefer the rap-rock stylings. One thing this track does do highlights the diversity of PAPA ROACH, and how they are always looking to move with the times and not be stuck in the early 2000s. And while I am a rock/metal/punk-oriented person myself, I certainly do not discredit musicians whose diversity steps outside of the genres I prefer.
“Bloodline”, the fourth song from EGO TRIP, feels a little darker, and a little more aggressive. A heavy beat, with a catchy pre-chorus leading into a loud and boisterous chorus. As with many of the tracks, this song is short and punchy. None of the tracks exceed 4 minutes, with more than half being less than 3 minutes long. It certainly leaves the listener wanting more, but means you can bounce through the whole album from song to song without feeling like you need to skip a track at all. And while there are certainly some songs that grab me more than others, I really do not think there are any really bad tracks.
The fifth track is “Liar” and this is one that I really like. It has such a bouncy, catchy tune, and the lyrics, while fast and at times a mouthful, flow well. The layered, gang-style vocals of the chorus work really well on this track.
“Ego Trip” is the sixth song on the album of the same name, and if I’m honest is one of my lesser faves. Musically it is great, with the drums absolutely standing out, and also has some real funky bass riffs too. I do find though, that lyrically this one is a little cheesy.
Another one of my faves from the album is track seven, “Unglued”. It has an old-school “rock style PAPA ROACH” sound that I have an affinity with. Lyrically it is cohesive and appears to be about the breakdown of a relationship. Although not one of the higher ranking songs when you look at the album as a whole, I like the sound of it, and have often played it over again for multiple listens in a row.
“Dying To Believe” was released in October 2021, and looks to be right up there in popularity. Jacoby Shaddix was reported as having described this song as having been written to help unify the division that is prevalent in today’s society. Anyone who loves music, knows that, in itself, music is a great way to unite people from all over. It brings us together, it makes us feel whole, and is an outlet for so many to express themselves and their feelings, so I applaud Jacoby on trying to lessen the divide. Lyrically it is deep, and musically it has elements of the new styles we see being produced by some of the world’s biggest artists. More synth, couipled with a very harmonic chorus makes this track super listenable and appealing.
Track nine, “Killing Time”, to me has what I deem as the typical PAPA ROACH sound. Highly identifiable, and one to get you moving. A tad repetitive but nothing so bad as to taint the song.
Anyone who knows me knows that vocals are my thing. I love a great vocal track. On this album, this is that track. I cannot tell you how many times I have played this song over and over again. Jacoby Shaddix has done such a stellar job on “Leave A Light On”. It is nothing like any of the other tracks on this whole album. It is poignant, deep, and just an absolutely beautiful, beautiful song. I hold nothing back in saying it is my favourite. It’s no heavy rock song or riffing Nu Metal song, but it is the one I just cannot stop singing and playing over again. I would love to see this acoustic song done live!!
100% my highlight of the whole album, even if I am the only one who thinks so!
Track eleven brings in yet another element in what I can only describe as more of a pop-punk/rock type of vibe. “Always Wandering” is definitely catchy, I actually really like this one too. I feel it is referring to recurring issues, whether it be drugs, bad relationships, or mental health.
Saying that somehow it always comes back around. Life is a constant battle for some, and I think, in that respect, PAPA ROACH nails this sentiment in many of their songs., including the next track “No Apologies” Learning to let go of the things we hold deep inside is hard, but listening to songs like this, for some, might just make it a touch easier.
The penultimate track is “Cut The Line”, which is another one of those songs that has a vaguely pop-punk rock sound to it, that is becoming popular right now. The drums on this track are brilliant and Tony Palermo has to be congratulated on his overall performance across the whole album. So too do Tobin Esperance and Jerry Horton, and of course, the one and only Jacoby Shaddix, whom I believe is the driving force behind the success of PAPA ROACH.
And lastly, but certainly, not least is the final track “I Surrender” which starts out heavy, and has a very melodic chorus. Backing vocals are notable and the tale of not running from your past, and accepting who you are seems to be where this song leads you. A great track to close out what I think is an excellent album. I certainly like it far more than the last two albums and have an appreciation for the diversity the album brings. Bands that have been around as long as these guys do well to constantly evolve, try new sounds, and develop further the sounds they have created for themselves. Nearly 30 years in this business is a huge milestone, and I look forward to hearing more from PAPA ROACH in the future.