1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 158

Infest, by Papa Roach
Suggested by Andy Devine

It has been claimed that cockroaches would survive a nuclear holocaust.

It’s not true, of course. The Mythbusters team debunked the insect’s resilience to a nuclear afterglow back in 2012, by exposing cockroaches to increasing levels of radiation. Eventually, the little guys died, as did the animal rights activists watching the show (probably).

Nevertheless, cockroaches do have an indomitable spirit, and they are capable of some incredible feats of endurance. They can survive a week without a head, surpassing the Headless Horseman in longevity of lifespan, being as this spectre was dead to begin with, but falling short of Mike the Headless Chicken, who survived eighteen months without his beaky noggin.

Formed in 1993 and still scuttling today, Papa Roach have the longevity that’s a hallmark of the species. Do they have the rock / metal chops to outlast the other metallic creepy crawlies?

With a Heavy Metal carapace, a Rap proboscis and a silky Funk undercarriage, Papa Roach should skitter through the cracked walls of my musical mind-palace and start reproducing wildly. However, I find myself irritated with Infest from the minute the singer opens his mouth. The first lyrics of the title track – My name’s Coby Dick, Mr Dick if you’re nasty / Rock a mic with a voice that’s raspy – are genuinely terrible. This is sub-par frat-rock that’s beneath even the self-aware Beastie Boys, only Papa Roach seem to play it at face value.

Musically, everything seems adequate yet uninspired. The guitars are suitably nu-metal twangy, but they’re nothing you’ve not heard before in other bands of this ilk. The drumming feels rudimentary at best, and the rapping is juvenile, insipid and embarrassing. When “Coby Dick” hits a more well-honed chorus, he proves to the listener that he’s got some skill and talent to offer. The lyrics are still dodgy, faux-emotive emo schoolyard whining, but I suppose if you’re a band formed by high schoolers and it’s your big-label debut, you’re going to dance with the date that brought you, however juvenile they may be.

Pap Roach wear their stylistic influences on their arms like water wings, but have little skill in weaving them all together into something fresh and new. They feel like a Frankenband, a stitched monstrosity of musical body parts, where each piece is supplying something that can be found better elsewhere. If I want interesting nu metal, I’ll go to Incubus or Korn. If I want cool funky fusion, I’ll go to Faith No More. If I want a punky skater college sound, I’ll go to Suicidal Tendencies, and if I want cringeworthy Rap tat, I’ll go to PJ and Duncan.

That said, there’s a kernel of something in this raw and raucous noise. I enjoyed the standout Last Resort. The situation is not irredeemable, and if the band does indeed move on to a more mature sound then I suspect they could bring me into their fold.

Infest gets a mediocre 5/10. Roach, meet Steel-Toed Boot.

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