Summary

Papa Roach's seventh studio album, The Connection, finds the California band finally striking a balance between its early roots as a nu-metal/rap-rock outfit and its more recent interest in '80s-style Sunset Strip hard rock. Featuring production from Sixx: A.M. frontman James Michael as well as Goldfinger's John Feldmann, The Connection includes some creatively slick sounds that flow from buzzy, processed distortion to pulsating, atmospheric electronic flourishes. In some ways, The Connection is perhaps the band's most contemporary-sounding album, though it still remains reverent to the nu-metal sound of the late '90s when it comes down to the overall feel of each tune. In that sense, this disc fits well next to the works of similarly inclined nu-metal journeymen -- such as Incubus, Filter, and Linkin Park -- who've found ways to adapt their sound to an ever-changing pop landscape. Still centered around the high-energy yawp of vocalist Jacoby Shaddix, Papa Roach are never at a loss for something to shout about, and The Connection is no exception. Here, we get the anthemic statement of purpose "Still Swingin," which features Shaddix flexing his rap muscles, as well as the similarly defiant rocker "Give Me Back My Life." Elsewhere, Papa Roach delve into cinematic electronic balladry with the passionate "Before I Die" and the equally as yearning "Leader of the Broken Hearts." Of course, there are also plenty of straightforward electric guitar rock cuts here, and tracks like the fiery "Where Did the Angels Go," "Breathe You In," and "Not That Beautiful" should definitely appeal to the band's more belligerent, fist-pumping fan base. ~ Matt Collar