The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

Let’s Take a Look @ Some Nostalgic Novelty Noughties Nu-Metal with America’s Greatest Rock Band, Papa Roach

If I may be so arrogant to say so, I have done a great job o’ destroying my credibility o’er the last decade with my hot takes on video games, like my criticism o’ Ocarina of Time & Super Mario Galaxy; or my hot takes on literature, like my criticism o’ To Kill a Mockingbird & 1984; but in this whole decade I’m surprised I’ve spared you all from my spicy takes on music, despite the fact that I don’t go hardly a minute without wearing headphones — & I mean real music, not nerdy shit like the music from the SimCity games. This is specially great, since unlike video games, which I’ve actually practiced making ( still working on that game, by the way ) or obsessively analyzed level design, or literature, which I’ve been writing for a decade, too, I have no understanding o’ music, beyond some crappy MIDI I made almost a decade ago.

Like all moomers, which is what I shall call millennials from now on till the next millennium, my artistic tastes have been permanently crippled by having grown up in the wasteland o’ the noughties — called that way ’cause the cultural value the 1st decade o’ the 2000s had was naught. This was the era o’ GameCube & nu-metal, banging my head to “One Step Closer” while fighting Captain Falcon in Mushroom Kingdom II ( which was really Sub-Con ). Now, I’ve written ’nough ’bout crappy GameCube games that I loved as a kid, like Super Mario Sunshine; but the only glimpses I have given to the mysterious underbelly o’ nu-metal are lyrics quoted in the titles o’ my poems.

I have started with our good friends Papa Roach not ’cause their name is ridiculously better than their music, but ’cause in my youth they were actually somehow my 2nd favorite band o’ all time, right below Linkin Park & right ’bove Three Days Grace. Now, long before e’eryone jumped the bandwagon o’ praising Linkin Park after their lead singer Kurt-Cobained himself, I was already defending them, & we’re still waiting for the rest o’ the world to wise up & come to appreciate the amazing vocals o’ Three Days Grace’s former vocalist Adam Gontier; but Papa Roach is a band that hasn’t aged so well — & in fact, were probably not all that good to begin with.

’Course, we will be looking @ their 1st big album ( they had a few EPs & obscure releases before, but hardly anyone knows ’bout them, so we can ignore them for now ), Infest. This was, actually, the only truly nu-metal album they made, as they saw the mold begin to sprout relatively quickly & packed their bags for hard rock, & then whate’er trends were current on their following albums. I think their latest album is trying to sound like Imagine Dragons, which is the smartest idea, since Imagine Dragons are such a beloved band & their sound won’t e’er go out o’ style.

1. Infest

This song introduces the band with the line “¡viva la cucaracha!” ( “¡long live the roach!” ), which is fine ’nough, but then then follows that with the Shakespearean lines, “my name’s Coby Dick / Mr. Dick, if you’re nasty”. See, ’cause “dick” also means “pee-pee”. ( Now that I think ’bout it, considering Shakespeare wrote lines like, “these be her very Cs, her U’s and her T’s and thus makes she her great P’s”, maybe it isn’t that far off from being Shakespearean… ).

The lyrics in general are a mangled mix o’ attempted vague social commentary. For instance, we got takes gainst the lame-pee media & the big government with the chorus: “What is wrong with the world today / The government, the media, or your family?”, while the 3rd verse talks ’bout being “shackled to your feet” & “beaten like meat” & how “people are the problem today”. The problem for what is unspecified. ¿Problem for people? ¿What’s the solution, kill all people, to help the people? I’m clearly thinking ’bout this mo’ than the lyricists did.

I actually still like the grimy guitar during the pre-chorus, but the vocals sound surprisingly weak compared to later songs. Señor Dick doesn’t sound all that enthusiastic ’bout all this infesting he’s doing ( save for the parts where he screams it — in the background, ironically ), singing, “We’re going to infest / We’re getting in your head” almost in monotone.

For some reason I really liked this song as a kid & in fact put it on some top 10 list I had to make for school that I only hope has been lost fore’er. Now I feel it had potential to fit the scuzzy aesthetic that Papa Roach was going for, but fails to meet that potential, & o’ all the songs on this album sounds the most like a joke novelty song that isn’t really funny.

Grade: D

2. Last Resort

The big meme song, where Coby states in robotic monotone how he wants to commit suicide, with the music video taking place in a wrestling ring o’ all places. I guess, to be fair, considering all the pain & suffering wrestlers probably endure ’hind the limelight from all the bruises they get while performing probably does lead a lot o’ wrestlers to feel depressed, but it still leaves an odd tone here.

It may be shocking to know that as a kid I ne’er really liked this song & was baffled as to why this o’ all songs would be chosen as the hit single. Cheesy, stupid lyrics I could vibe with, specially if it had loud yelling & banger music, but this song was just monotone announcing this dour topic as if ’twere a thesis paper & also had generic “DUH-NUH NUH-NUH, NUH-NUH NUH-NUH” riffs that ne’er stood out to me.

Grade: D

3. Broken Home

I’ve also ne’er loved ballads, & this is basically the ballad to this album. This was ’nother song I ne’er felt belonged as a single as a kid, but I still preferred it o’er “Last Resort”, & I would actually say out o’ all songs on this album, I think my opinion has, if anything, improved on this mo’ than on any o’ the others, & I think I understand better why this was a single ( in fact, knowing mo’ now ’bout how much bands have softer, poppier songs as singles for wider appeal, I can definitely understand why this was a single ). For 1, none o’ the lyrics stand out as cheesy or dumb, with maybe the exception o’, “Stories that I tell are non-fiction”, which struggles to fit the song’s meter. Granted, the lyrics aren’t particularly inspired, either; — specially lines like “Pain bottled up about to blow like a gun”.

But the music has also grown on me, which, fittingly, is mo’ subdued than the chug-chugs o’ the rest o’ the album. I kind o’ like the weird BWOW, BWOW, BWOW, BWOW… riffs thruout the song, specially the surprising urgency to the song, which is rare for ballads, which always have to be slow & boring. I also love those sick ol’-school rap whispers — I don’t know what they’re called — in the background repeating “push it back inside”. Actually I still don’t know how this weird-ass song became a single. I think all the weird-ass 1-hit-wonders from the 90s prepared people to accept whate’er nonsense on the radio.

Grade: B

4. Dead Cell

I actually still like this song. It’s a certified™ banger & is what the rest o’ the album should’ve been, with those grimy riffs & vague lyrics talking ’bout sickness & bombs:

born with no soul, lack of control
cut from the mold of the anti-social
plug ’em in & then turn ’em on
process the data, make yourself the bomb

¿What are these lyrics e’en talking ’bout? ¿Who cares? Spooky cockroach man raps ’bout bombs & computers.

Plus, miraculously, Jacoby actually sounds like he has a flow & has energy to his rapping & singing, which, considering the earlier songs, is quite a whiplash.

Grade: A

5. Between Angels & Insects

¿This song was a single? ¿Really? They definitely put a lot o’ care into this music video, with its arbitrary zoom-ins to peoples’ faces & random stuff, only to then take a break to show people spitting up water for some reason.

This song has nothing to do with angels or insects, but is a bougie anthem gainst money & how Jacoby “doesn’t need that shit”, which any socialist knows is false: in a capitalist society e’eryone needs money to live ( Papa Roach weren’t giving this shit ’way for free, after all ), which is why money needs to be redistributed to ameliorate the suffering o’ poverty. The idea that the problems with money come from people choosing to become obsessed with money is an idea that only people well-off ’nough to ne’er worry ’bout being too destitute, — for whom it’s not a question o’ destitution vs. sufficiency, but a question o’ sufficiency vs. excess, — could take seriously. Thank you all for listening to my Marxist analysis o’ Papa Roach.

In contrast to “Dead Cell”, Jacoby’s flow falls ’gain, & the cool, imagery-ladden lyrics full o’ malaria-vomiting barriers is replaced by stiltedly-rapped broad lyrics that millions have already written by then:

you’re a slave to the system
working jobs that you hate
for that shit you don’t need
It’s too bad the world is based on greed

Still, I kind o’ like that distorted guitar in the background, as cheesy as it is. I take back what I said: this is the ballad o’ this album.

Grade: C

6. Blood Brothers

Here we have a song so shitty Papa Roach replaced it on the clean version o’ the album with a song that had mo’ profanity in it ( that is also a much better song — honestly, having relistened to it, too, it’s better than most o’ the songs on this album, which makes me wonder why ’twas left out ). I outright hated this song as a kid & my opinion hasn’t softened since. You can’t save a song that starts with the lyrics, “watch your back, ’cause the next man is comin’ / & you don’t know if the next man is dumbin’”. I shit you not, those are actually the lyrics, & e’en a young me who ate up lyrics like “Mr. Dick if you’re nasty” & the kind o’ lyrics Disturbed in the House We’re Droppin’ Plates was writing on The Sickness was confounded.

E’en the music sucks, with those annoying squeaky guitar riffs that sound like broken, bootleg Rage Against the Machine & those clacky, weak drums. & the chorus, what should be the catchiest part o’ a song, is just saying broad, vague, empty nothings like a robot, repeating o’er & o’er, “It’s in our nature to kill”… I think that, too, is s’posed to be RATM, but RATM actually chose memorable slogans. There’s a reason people quote “Some of those who work forces are the same who burn crosses” the millionth time a black kid is murdered by a cop & not vague shit like “It’s in our nature to kill”.

Worse, ’cept the 1st 2 lyrics, this song isn’t e’en funny bad, just boring. ¡Next!

Grade: F

7. Revenge

¡Here we go! Now here’s a song that’s funny bad. It is criminal that this song doesn’t have memes ’bout it. I would almost go far as to say that it’s this song ’lone that inspired me to write this article.

Take a serious subject like domestic abuse & absolutely fill it with bathos-injected lyrics struggling to fit the meter like…

beat his ass with a bat, face sunk like silly putty
you all can sit back so I can study
destruction of the family design
and how the morals of society decline
essentially is beats to rhymes, like grapes to wine


while the drama gets deeper I puff on the reefer
she took the last step and sent his ass to the reaper

Which always made me feel as if the narrator is in the background just smoking blunts while this is going on.

But this song becomes amazing during the 3rd verse, when it drops into an insane rant wherein our domestic abuse victim, who has, as the song says, gotten revenge on her abuser, s’posedly goes “too far” & becomes Godzilla:

kill it, before it reaches you
missiles won’t work it’s approaching the mainland
what if it reaches the metropolitan areas, cosmopolitan areas
secure the lines and prepare for departure
calm, calm, calm
it is a, a big business & seems to be advancing underground
because my style is underground
i’m green with my red eyes mad tint
flee, fly, flow, ¡rápido! ¡rápido!
she feeds plentiful, electrifying the nation, electrifying the nation

Just reading the lyrics aren’t sufficient to appreciating them; you have to listen to this & hear Jacoby’s legendarily hammy rapping.

Jacoby then starts shouting, “¡SHOCKA! ¡DANGA DANGA!”, before having to audacity to try returning to the basic-ass chorus, “it’s alright, we’re in love / can’t live with or without”, as if anyone cares ’bout that anymo’.

This song also has a generic, but booming bass. I love how this song starts with a DUH, DUH DUH…, like it knew it’s announcing something crazy.

Grade: S

8. Snakes

Papa Roach follows that masterpiece with what might be 1 o’ the goofiest rap songs from a nu-metal band in a genre full o’ goofy rap songs. After we start with some militaristic riffs we get some tough lyrics ’bout the hood life:

i got a problem with the snakes that are crawling
thru my area
when the darkness has fallen
& mama told me that they love to bite
they stab you in the back
no shame that’s right
¿what? ¿what?

What I love most is that Jacoby ends both verses with:

1 for your money
2 for your girl
3 for your life
now, i fucked up your world

Like “1 for your money, 2 for your girl” is what a nerd would think sounds tough.

I almost want to just quote all the lyrics, ’cause they’re all gold.

’Nother highlight is in the bridge when Jacoby metal screams “¡what the fuck is up?”. I think e’en back then I thought this was a parody o’ rap rock.

We also get some sick record scratching in the back while some rapper goes “WHAT WHAT WHA-WHAT”, aw yeah, G dogg skillet I FEEL LIKE A MONSTER, we disturbed in the house droppin’ plates ( that’s actually the goofiest nu-metal rap song ).

Grade: A

9. Never Enough

Sadly, after the high point that was “Revenge” & “Snakes”, we get some snoozers. These are songs I didn’t so much as hate as forget as a kid, oft skipping them on playthrus. This song in particular is the blandest o’ songs in this album, with lyrics so vague e’en Genius says, “This song’s meaning is difficult to discern”, but guesses that it has something to do with “the numbing nature of Corporate America”. I don’t hear that @ all, but OK. It just seems like a generic song ’bout being depressed.

I mean, look @ this chorus:

never enough
never enough
¿do i deserve
what i got?

That had to be a 1st draft.

Grade: D

10. Binge

This is a li’l better, with those weird deep riffs that sound like they’re hungo’er & coming out o’ a greasy liquor bottle themselves. The singing also sounds hungo’er, mixing straightforward lyrics that leave nothing to interpretation with an unenthusiastic delivery. In essence, this song is as dreary to listen to as it is dreary being hungo’er. In particularly, the repeated, “I am on a binge” is both completely lacking in any catchy value & sounds ridiculous for anyone to just state outright. I don’t know if you noticed this, but Papa Roach were not much for subtlety.

Grade: C

11. Thrown Away

Like “Dead Cell”, I actually still like this song, e’en with goofy-ass lyrics, like “he’s born sick, nothing in his hands but his dick / he couldn’t handle pressure, he couldn’t handle shit” ( actually, I think the lyric I actually disliked the most was “unclear like gray”, which is clearly just padding out the meter ), & the kind o’ lyrical-spherical stuff that has made white rappers a punch line ’gain are enjoyable, since a’least they have color to them & Jacoby’s rapping has intensity & flow. It’s bizarre how the lyrics & rapping zigzag from the extremes o’ pretty decent & full o’ imagery to the vaguest, broadest, most stilted performance e’er. ¿Am I crazy for noticing a sharp contrast in quality ’tween these 2 songs & most o’ the other songs? Specially when these songs got the least attention.

& when the song does get monotone & repetitious, it actually fits the song, as it makes Jacoby sound insane, specially when he starts breaking out into screaming ’gain, finishing off with, “¡LAST REMAIN!” or “¡THEY’RE SCREAMING!”, or whate’er the fuck he’s saying.

Grade: A

BONUS: Tight Rope

Like many early 2000s albums, this album had a super secret track @ the end o’ the final track ( hence why it’s in the title o’ the video ’bove ). It’s a much calmer song, almost reggae — albeit the whitest reggae in the world. The lyrics are mo’ nihilistic social commentary ’bout how corrupt the world s’posedly is. I always found it a palate cleanser as a kid, but ne’er thought o’ it much. I still don’t know what to think ’bout it & don’t want to write anymo’ ’bout it.

Grade: C

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Posted in Nostalgic Novelty Noughties Nu-Metal