Taproot welcomes a more metallic flavor

Doug Reed

As hard rock has recently received greater respect in the main-steam music world, bands that were primarily underground for years have surfaced to extend their tragic melodies to an eager audience of new listeners. The metal rock group, Taproot, from Ann Arbor, Mich., was formed in 1997 and has recently released its sophomore album “Welcome” to follow its highly successful 2000 release “Gift.” Bands like Taproot have gained more recognition due to the popular Ozzfest tours over the past few years, which had paved the way for bands like Adema and Mudvayne. Also, new sounds have been born into the hard rock scene – going beyond their predecessors like Metallica and Black Sabbath – which add hints of emotional rock into the mix. It has become common practice in all music genres to borrow certain characteristics from other genres, to experiment instead of repeating others.

Taproot’s newest album has blended artistic poetry and emotion into aggressive metal riffs that characterize the hard rock world. The band could even be described as intelligent rock, circling self-reflection and discourse through screams and electric guitars. This destroys the stereotype of mindless, dumb and unemotional metal-heads (although I can’t speak for everyone).

But do not confuse the emotional rock of Taproot with other emotionally introverted bands like Dashboard Confessional or the Get Up Kids. The difference that defines the band as “metal” is its disregard for the happy-go-lucky attitude, and it has no fear of being dark or scary (in fact, that’s exactly what it is going for). Taproot, and other hard rock bands, take the road less traveled and choose to reflect the aggressive and alternative quality to human nature — a different approach to commonly shared topics and concerns.

“Welcome” is a roller coaster of melodies, taking a smooth cruise through intros, and rising the speed and aggressive tone to its peak during choruses, and then dropping back to soft voices and light guitar plucks. There is one exception to this rule with the song “Like,” which is the soft song of the album, that is followed by the more upbeat “Dreams.” In a recent review with Rolling Stone, Taproot’s album got overall praise with a few minor criticisms, stating, “Stephen Richards’ ‘me, me, me’ lyrics suggest the band still has some maturing to do.”

Although this may be true with song titles such as “Mine” and “Myself,” I would hardly consider the band immature by any standard, because of the way Taproot reflects deep thought and reflects a variety of rock moods within each song, from soft words to screams.

So who would like Taproot? Well, if you enjoy mainstream bands such as Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Slipknot or KoRn, you may be able to find room in your disk man for Taproot.