This Is Hardcore

Hailing from Vacaville, Calif., and crafting that thrashy, anger-rock all the kids love, Papa Roach could easily be dismissed as a prefabricated, flavor-of-the-month rock band. A quick listen to their self-titled DreamWorks debut sounds, smells and feels like late-1990's teen spirit, and a glance at the album's liner notes reads like a laundry list of cool: intense lyrics, Coal Chamber and System of a Down producer Jay Baumgardner, etc.

However, subsequent listens to this debut effort prove that Papa Roach could care less about the nookie. Though the band specializes in the now ubiquitous racket of rap-rock, there's a sense of reality here not found in the genre's popular purveyors, Korn and Limp Bizkit. Papa Roach's current single, the suicide anthem "Last Resort" (RealAudio excerpt), distinguishes itself by sounding sincere. "Would it be wrong, would it be right" vocalist Cody Dick growls in the song's chorus, "if I took my life tonight?" Pausing to contemplate the crisis, he reasons "Chances are I might/ Mutilation out of sight/ I'm contemplating suicide."

Guitarist Jerry Horton, bassist Tobin Esperance and drummer Dave Buckner complement Dick's narratives with a rattling and rhythmic backbeat. A turntable occasionally graces the mix, but so infrequently that labeling Papa Roach a member of the Family Values clan would be inaccurate. Instead, the band is prime Ozzfest material.

"Between Angels and Insects" (RealAudio excerpt) is the album's tastiest cut, with a call-to-arms rally against materialism and lines like "The things you own, own you." On "Snakes" (RealAudio excerpt), Dick growls and rhymes with urban tenacity, snapping verses above a wild din of twisted metal and groove: "The doctors say he's got a face like a murderer/ This rugged style steals your brain like a burglar."

What Papa Roach doesn't steal, though, is any poor excuse to sound exactly like every other band with a centerfold in this month's issue of Kerrang. Once upon a time, they called this stuff hardcore. And though various mutations of the genre have made millionaires of meatheads, Papa Roach seem intent on keeping things real.