Papa Roach's first full-length album, Old Friends from Young Years, documents a band in their formative years, and although it saw limited release and has since become a collector's item of sorts, it contains some of the group's best material. Having been recorded by the band themselves, one should not be surprised at its rudimentary production, yet the scratchy recording allows one to envision the band in a live setting much better than the more streamlined production of Infest. Frontman Coby Dick relies on a scattershot rap approach heavily doused in hardcore intensity, spitting lyrics with vehement fury before lapsing into subdued spoken word/singing. Amidst street-smart rap lingo, Dick exudes emotion when contemplating life ("Orange Drive Palms"), spousal abuse ("Liquid Diet"), drugs ("829"), and a variety of other personal topics. Musically Papa Roach is captured here with a much more underground hardcore approach that relies solely on crunchy guitars and blistering drums, which may surprise those more accustomed to Papa Roach's later, more accessible mainstream rock style. Old Friends from Young Years also contains what may possibly be the most infamous Papa Roach song with "Peewagon," a song which deals with the inability to control one's bladder and a song that the band later refused to play at live shows despite fan encouragement. While nothing on this album is written as well or as slick as the band's Infest material, it remains earlier fans' favorite from the band and gives newcomers a chance to understand why Papa Roach was considered one of the independent scene's top contenders long before Dreamworks signed them.
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AllMusic Review by Jason D. Taylor