Papa Roach – The Paramour Sessions

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Papa Roach
Artist: Papa Roach
Title: The Paramour Sessions
Label: Geffen
Rating: 7/10

CORPORATE LINE: The Paramour mansion has no shortage of history.

In 1933, oil heiress Daisy Canfield was on her way home from a party when her car veered off a Mulholland Drive cliff, plummeting 300 feet and instantly killing the wife of silent movie star Antonio Moreno. In the decades that followed, the couple’s 14-bedroom Hollywood Hills estate would see time as a school for girls, then a convent before falling into disrepair, later being devastated by a 1987 earthquake. Born again more than a decade later, the renovated mansion has served as a recording studio for the likes of H.I.M. and Gwen Stefani, and recently hosted television’s “Rock Star” reality series.

It was between seasons of “Rock Star” that Papa Roach were tenants of the historic property, writing and recording the songs that comprise The Paramour Sessions. “We chose to move into the Paramour so we could focus on music and not have to deal with and be affected by the outside world,” says Papa Roach drummer Dave Buckner. Little did the band realize the impact that the house would actually have. “We went in to the house with the intention of writing the most savage, bad-ass record we could write,” adds frontman Jacoby Shaddix, “but when we got there, the house had a spirit about it that was bigger than us. We knew we were onto something the second we went into our jam sessions, because we’d never stepped into a room and played for six or seven hours straight, just being creative.”

The results of that creative energy – whether channeled by the band, or the product of a mysterious, more elusive energy – are The Paramour Sessions, the fifth full-length Papa Roach release of the past decade, and second for Geffen Records. “Living in the house together was the best thing we could have done for ourselves,” says guitarist Jerry Horton. “It brought new life to our writing process and helped us reconnect musically and spiritually. The Paramour brought another level to our creative flow and that had a major influence on the songs, as well as how we’ll write music in the future.” Details Shaddix: “There was something about the ballroom we recorded in that made us want to write bigger, with more open chords. Something happened there that we wanted everyone to experience with us, and we wanted the songs to feel as grand and over-the-top as our experience there was.”

“Every album we’ve made is a reflection of our states, both personally and musically, and this album is no different,” explains Buckner. “The whole property was completely f***ing haunted, and I saw it as a sanctioned opportunity for me to lose my mind—And I did exactly that. I was visited by inter-dimensional beings, had out-of-body sex with spirits from old Hollywood, learned how to see specters, and now know what it feels like to have a ghost walk through me. It’s a very enlightening and inspiring experience, and something to check off the list.”

“There were times that I was just lyrically stuck, and I would go down to Daisy’s grave – she was buried on the property – and just write whatever came to me,” recalls Shaddix. “I wrote ‘Forever’ down there, and also ‘My Heart Is A Fist.’ I’d just walk around the property and find the lyrics – I’d look under rocks, I’d trip out, I’d meditate. “Ultimately, we all needed to face whatever our fears were on this record,” the singer continues. “We also need to be able to face the fans, face the world, and be able to be proud of who we are and what we do. After making this record, we couldn’t ask for anything more than what we accomplished.” “It was a pretty crazy, intense time, and you can hear it throughout the record,” sums Esperance. “It’s a very honest and direct record, which is the same thing that Papa Roach strive to be as a band.” “In the early days, I would obsess and worry about making our mark on rock music, but not anymore,” concludes Buckner. “In fact, I’m not sure that’s even a worthy concern… We rock today, and that’s what’s cool.”

THE GOOD:
“Alive” – Losing oneself is painful, but it sure helps to make a good song. It’s all very therapeutic. Not to mention Shaddix sounds a little like Trent Reznor.
“Forever” – This ballad might be a bit corny and the lyrics aren’t “cool”—but it works because the melody pops.
“Time Is Running Out” – An interesting song that doesn’t capture your attention right away. And then when it comes to a close you suddenly you realize how you’ve been singing along.

THE AVERAGE:
“…To Be Loved” – Is this a some new punk-pop band or the Papa Roach band that has given the world numerous cool rock songs? If you had had to guess it’d be the former rather than the latter.
“Crash” – Papa Roach has the ability to really make great radio singles—however they usually carry more lyrical substance. All the focus appeared to be on the hook.
“The World Around You” – They don’t take the slow and sentimental road to a ballad and that is admirable.

THE BAD:
Nothing.

FRANKLY: It would be easy to form an opinion after hearing The Paramour Sessions only once. It would be easier to form an opinion after hearing just the first song. It’d be a huge mistake because Papa Roach has quietly released a very good rock record. There are some missteps; however there are more occasions when they hit the nail right on the head. Even when they bring a ballad it doesn’t sound weak or wimpy. A lot of artists have fallen by the wayside after coming up on the Korn and Limp Bizkit coattails and yet Papa Roach is still standing tall. The sole reason is they can write really fantastic rock songs. The Paramour Sessions is another notch on their belt.

+ Rae Gun

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