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Album Reviews : Taproot – Plead The Fifth

By on June 23, 2010

Taproot have had a quiet yet somehow turbulent few years, watching the decline of the rap rock/nu metal scene that initially saw their rise, and suffering poor album sales and critical reception, eventually causing them to be dumped by their record label. But they’ve found a new home at Victory Records, and their latest studio album Plead the Fifth is being heralded as a return to the band’s original ~roots (pun intended).

Old school fans are likely to lap up Plead the Fifth, with the record just oozing of that undefinable classic Taproot sound. The album shows little potential to attract new fans, however, with the band having had their sound usurped in recent years by acts such as Breaking Benjamin and 30 Seconds to Mars. Rookie listeners are likely to feel it’s something they’ve heard before, but can’t quite put their finger on.

The album itself is quite inoffensive and has a cohesive alternative rock feel, though some could argue that it all sounds the same. Tracks such as Now Rise, Fractured (Everything I Said Was True), Release Me, Stares, Trophy Wifi and Words Don’t Mean A Thing almost sound as if they’re the same track on repeat, albeit with the lyrics slightly reworked. Each track is littered with the same kind of distorted guitar work, with Stephen Richards’ vocals consistently alternating between Spineshank/Butterfly Effect-esque screaming, and drawn out bars showcasing his vibrato.

The lyrics are also another issue, with Richards singing about life decisions and relationships in an overtly simplistic and almost juvenile manner. Though lyrical content isn’t something this reviewer takes too seriously, Taproot simply aren’t doing themselves justice with sentence structure akin to a first-grader’s journal entry to a teacher about their weekend. Fortunately the complex layering of guitars, distortion and vocal effects add something interesting to the tracks, saving them from sounding too primary school.

While the majority of the album sounds like 30 Seconds To Mars minus the tech-y vibe and Jared Leto’s bad hair, the record occasionally leaps out of its comfort zone and saves it from sitting too firmly in the alternative rock genre. Screaming vocals from Fractured (Everything I Sad Was True) are almost reminiscent of nu metal (albeit less cringe-worthy), while the anomalously heavy intro of Game Over shows industrial influences.

Left Behind’s screams and more aggressive tempo give a metalcore and post-hardcore feel, while the creepy audio clip introducing Release Me, and The Grudge-esque noises at the end of Stolage continue to add interest. The slower melodic pace of 911ost and No View Is True change things up nicely, with the former having an almost flowy vibe. No View Is True is one of the standout tracks from the record, solely because it features almost entirely undistorted singing vocals.

The Verdict: if you’re a hardcore Taproot fan, an alternative rock fan, or you think 30 Seconds To Mars aren’t as spacey and edgy as they think they are, Plead the Fifth may be right up your alley. It won’t be the most original thing you hear all year, but it does alternative rock proud. If Taproot work on their lyrical content and changing up their song structure, they’re sure to attract more than a few fans. 8/10

Band: Taproot
Album: Plead the Fifth
Year: 2010
Genre: Alternative Rock
Origin: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Label: Victory Records
www.myspace.com/taproot

Track Listing

1. Now Rise
2. Game Over
3. Fractured (Everything I Said Was True)
4. Release Me
5. Stolage
6. 911ost
7. Trophy WiFi
8. Words Don’t Mean A Thing
9. Left Behind
10. No View IS True
11. Stares

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.