It’s been four years since Papa Roach lead the broken hearts and searched for the angels with rock ballads and up-tempo anthems in The Connection. It’s been even longer since the band has been at its peak in popularity back in the early 2000s when they were Getting Away With Murder. Now, Papa Roach’s F.E.A.R. contains the band’s familiar sound but with a new purpose. The album title F.E.A.R. stands for “Face Everything And Rise,” a phrase which is clearly meant to uplift.
Concerned with the state of the world, Jacoby Shaddix leads a tortured story of reality in “Face Everything And Rise.” He calls out from a compressed vocal beneath an ambient melody that crescendos into a full blaring electric guitar. The lyrics express a deep concern for everything that’s occurring in the world and also in someone’s personal life. But following the theme of the album, the song chorus transforms the song into a motivational anthem. In the chorus the lyrics say, “I will face everything and rise / Never gonna quit until I die / Angels keep falling from the sky/ Take the broken wings and learn to fly / I will face everything and rise.”
Next, Papa Roach gets to the core in “Skeletons.” The song sounds amazing with the band’s usual melodic sound with an added edge. The lyrics explain the common human defense mechanism of shutting people out and how love has the power to break down the walls we build to protect ourselves… “brick by brick.”
Nobody is perfect in the mind of songwriting mastermind Shaddix, which is why he sings of forgiveness in “Broken As Me.” The introductory verse closely resembles the melody we heard in “I Almost Told You I That I Loved You,” in 2009’s Metamorphosis. It’s a brief, amazing reminder of how iconic the band is in the world of emo-rock. The semi-heartwarming chorus says “I will forgive and forget / Cause I know that it will set me free / But all that’s left it’s the emptiness inside of me / You murder my heart / Broke my trust and watch me fade away / Now I see, now I see / That you’re just as broken as me.”
The album continues to fulfill the expectations with songs about self-awareness, truth and longing in “Falling Apart,” and “Love Me Till It Hurts.” A vibraphone sound leads “Never Have To Say Goodbye,” the album’s most mainstream sounding track. Revealing some very personal drug abuse issues, this is a song about loving devotion even during life’s darkest moments and after death. In the first verse, the lyrics say “I never had the chance to say what I needed to say / Cause when you took your last breath / I was high, I was running away / You always call me on the phone / But I never pick up / I never wanted you to know / I was running out of love / You didn’t walk out, you didn’t give up on me.”
“Gravity,” takes you back to 2000 when the band released the single “Last Resort.” Although the remainder of the album is equally as brilliant, this song is a pivotal moment in the album where Papa Roach stamps the album with all the components that make them Papa Roach; the lyrics, the screaming of some definitive phrase that will live on for years and of course, rap verses. But then “War Over Me,” makes another definitive statement and the albums most in-depth lyric “I would die / just to live / just to bleed.” And instantly, 2004’s “Scars” comes to mind.
F.E.A.R. lives up to its meaning in this lyrics driven album. The band finishes with “Fear Hate Love,” a song the reveals the root of all the pain that enables Papa Roach to create music full of feeling. The album is just as melodic as it is deep, which brought me to the conclusion that it has all the bells and whistles without the pop-rock (sellout) bells and whistles.