Papa Roach, ‘The Connection’ – Album Review
Singer Jacoby Shaddix told Loudwire earlier this year, "What 'The Connection' means to us, it's our connection to the music. It's the connection of this music to the fans. It's the connection that we make onstage with our music … It's just this connection that Papa Roach than us sitting in a room jamming. It's larger than life now and we're just the facilitators for that, so it's just painfully obvious that this is what it needs to be."
With that in mind, the band mines the well of interpersonal connections again with their latest record. Shaddix, a master at baring his soul in tracks like 'Last Resort,' 'Scars,' and 'Broken Home,' puts his heart clearly on his sleeve with the standout track 'Before I Die.' The song, which incorporates some early piano work before fully rocking out, talks about pushing a loved one away while still feeling the urge to live for them.
And where 'Before I Die' is a more painful track, the misnomer 'Leader of the Broken Hearts' actually comes off as one of the more triumphant songs on the disc. On it, Shaddix revels in the pain that comes from a broken heart, knowing that even though a relationship has ended, there's an elation that came from putting it all on the line that's made him feel alive like never before.
As Shaddix has stated, 'The Connection' is also about the relationship of the music to their fans, and there are a number of rocking tracks on here that should eventually connect on the concert stage. Tony Palermo's 'Dr. Feelgood'-like drumming and the riffage of guitarist Jerry Horton and bassist Tobin Esperance on 'Where Did the Angels Go' provide the intensity of a great live song. Esperance and Horton also drive 'Wish You Never Met Me' with a killer bass opening and wailing guitar solo. And for those who like the rap-rock sound of the band's early work, 'Not That Beautiful' is a late album gem with Shaddix waxing poetic about putting a loved one on a pedestal.
The other major connection P-Roach make is to their own journey to get where they are today. The band has seen the highs and the lows and emerged as one of music's most consistently rocking acts, which makes 'Still Swingin'' not only the perfect song for a lead single, but essentially the anthem that describes their career path. Where many of their peers that started on the scene in the late '90s and early 2000s have faded away, Papa Roach have survived, and are the ones still swinging and connecting with fans.