PAPA ROACH — Infest (review)

PAPA ROACH — Infest album cover Album · 2000 · Nu Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
PAPA ROACH formed in Vacaville, CA in 1993 and then released a few EPs as well as their debut album “Old Friends From Young Years” on their independent label Onion Hardcore but for all intents and purposes those early albums were all but forgotten when the band got signed to the DreamWorks label where they debuted with the most successful album of their career called INFEST. During the millennial change the alternative 90s were still going strong and PAPA ROACH hit the right note with a Nirvana inspired grunge sound that incorporated Korn infused nu metal elements as well as the predominately rapped lyrics that were made popular by Rage Against The Machine. Add to that INFEST had a funky vibe too that seems to have taken a note or two from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

While many nu metal bands were cranking out the albums around this time, PAPA ROACH had a knack for crafting extremely catchy songs that had heavy metallic hooks and a dynamic production that made the tracks on INFEST utterly irresistible to many but as much love PAPA ROACH was finding success on the charts with an album that would eventually sell 3 million albums, the backlash against this nu metal style from traditional metalheads was fierce. Love em or hate em the floodgates opened once the band’s single “Last Resort” hit the airwaves. The track perfectly summed up the angsty turn of the clock millennial feel accompanied by a groovy bass heft, heavily distorted power grunge chords and Jacoby Shaddix’ youthful energetic style that was capitalizing on the current hip hop metal hybrids which were all the rage (against the machine).

INFEST is the culmination of personal tragedies represented in the lyrics along with extremely well placed tracks that were polished with excellent production techniques that were used as another instrument. The tracks are all quite different from each other with extremely melodic hooks as the common denominator. While other bands like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park had a similarly styled mix of disparate sounds that were a grab bag of what the alternative 90s offered, PAPA ROACH actually pulled off an album that kept each track interesting enough to stand on its own outside of the context of the others and yet the album had an incredible flow that kept the listening experience vibrant from the opening title track to the closing “Thrown Away.” While many a metalhead was giving this band a heaping pile of hate, the band was laughing all the way to the bank as INFEST shot up to #5 on the Billboard charts and launched the band into a successful touring schedule.

As a Bay Area resident, “Last Resort” has been a staple on alternative rock radio for years and to be fair has been played to death and i never really bothered to check this album out since nu metal wasn’t exactly my favorite style either, however as a fan of Korn and a few tracks here and there by other bands i finally decided to check out this album and i was quite surprised at how much i loved it. Every track is infectious and although it comes off as a teenage angst rap metal marathon, more careful listening will reveal a highly developed sense of rhythmic layers and everything flows together quite perfectly. The album is quite heavy although the guitar chords are heavily distorted and sound more like grunge. There are clever uses of echoes, syncopations and the production is just perfect. The album ends a little strangely with clean vocals and a reggae rock ending that sounds more like Sublime, another 90s phenomenon. Haters will hate but when an album is this great i can’t help but love it.
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