Papa Roach’s latest isn’t without some significant problems. But a surprising number of positive and spiritual themes pop up as well. The rock anthem “Lifeline” was written, according to frontman Jacoby Shaddix, to encourage those who’re struggling economically. It narrates the story of someone who’s learned to ask for aid instead of going it alone: “I put out my hand and I asked for some help/We tore down the walls I built around myself.” Another line in that track sounds a lot like the Apostle Paul’s experience on the Damascus road: “I was struck by the light and I fell to the ground.” In that spirit, “Into the Light” eloquently describes what it feels like to be spiritually bankrupt. “My mind is in the gutter/I feel like I wanna die,” sings Shaddix. “I’m the king of nothing/With a broken crown.” Denial (“I deny my affliction/And I run from the light”) has yielded to a desperate prayer of sorts (“Free me from myself/Shut down my mind”).
The next track, “Carry Me,” sounds even more like a prayer as Shaddix admits, “I question my own existence/Question the meaning of life,” then asks … someone, “Why don’t you carry me?/I can’t move on/ … I can’t save me/I am crazy.” He explicitly mentions prayer a bit further on (“I’m laying my cards on the table/Praying that everything will be all right”). Similarly, “March Out of the Darkness” talks of finding truth and relinquishing self-destructive ways. Two songs sharply critique our culture of death and violence (“Had Enough,” “State of Emergency”). “Change or Die” encourages those who are “sick of just getting by” to take responsibility for their lives. And despite its harsh, in-your-face title, “Hollywood Whore” focuses on the vanity of celebrity culture, including the dead ends of drug abuse, materialism and narcissism.
Positive messages are badly undermined by profanity. The band uses the f-word seven times across four tracks. An angry man repeatedly tells his cheating wife to “go to h—.” In addition to those language problems, “I Almost Told You That I Loved You” includes two graphic allusions to oral sex as a man slowly realizes he’s addicted to sex with a woman he doesn’t love.
In an interview with CNN, Jacoby Shaddix said of Metamorphosis, “This time around, we wanted to make more of a socially conscious record.” In many ways, Papa Roach has made good on that goal. More songs than not focus on significant philosophical questions as the band ponders what it means to be lost and found. Lyrics hint at Christian themes when it comes to trusting someone other than yourself for salvation. In that vein, it’s worth noting that the band has been promoting a Christian organization in northern California that ministers to the hungry and homeless, Sacramento Loaves & Fishes.
All of which makes the band’s insistence upon dropping f-bombs and impossible-to-miss references to oral sex even more maddening than they would have been otherwise. It’s as if the band wanted to make sure no one thought they’d softened up too much or drifted too far in a positive, healthy or inspirational direction. That jarring dichotomy is perhaps best captured in the repeated chorus of “Into the Light”: “F— all this madness/Put it aside/Out of the shadows/Into the light.” Here’s for more of the latter and less of the former on future Roach releases.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.