Taproot – SC\SSRS (Album Review)

The history of the band Taproot is a rather interesting one. Formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan back in 1997, the band steadily built a following and released three albums independently before ever getting signed to a major deal. A name anyone who followed the early 2000s Nu Metal scene knows of, everyone is also familiar with the story of Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst cursing out the band on an answering machine message after they opted to sign on Atlantic Records opposed to Interscope Records.

An amusing footnote in Taproot’s history, even captured on their major label 2000 debut album Gift, from here they continued to grow with the release of Welcome in 2002 and Blue-Sky Research in 2005. A peak point in the band’s mainstream popularity, by the time 2008’s Our Long Road Home came out they were pretty much a veteran act who displayed the artistic freedom to do what they wanted. Then as tides turned in the 2010s, Taproot still made impressive impacts with 2010’s Plead the Fifth and 2012’s The Episodes.

From here the last decade of the band has been a bit quiet; save some reunion shows, the release of a rarities collection called Besides in 2016, and some other special appearances. Interestingly enough, in early 2023 they re-emerged with a condensed version of Besides, titled Best of Besides. A pretty cool prospective for fans, coincidently around the same time it was also announced the band would be returning with their first studio album of new material in eleven long years. Calling the album SC\SSRS, the release date was announced for September 29th via THC MUSIC/Amplified Distribution.

Slowly picking up steam, they released the record’s first single, “VIP (V\CT\M \ PLAY)” on April 4th and it played like classic Taproot. A nice first taste, curiosity stirred for more, but Taproot opted to play it cool and waited until six months later to drop the next single, “Favourite Song.” Reminiscent of something you might have heard off Welcome, the track features a guest spot from Nonpoint’s Elias Soriano, and it is quite catchy.

These two tracks out there for people to either stumble upon in their mindless scroll through the internet, or deliberately seek out, the big question is what will the rest of SC\SSRS offer? A very valid one, eleven years is an extremely long time between albums. That said, it is important to note that much of the ideas for these new songs were actually thought up years ago as the direct follow up to The Episodes. Furthermore, there have been several changes in Taproot’s core since The Episodes; significantly the departure of co-founding Guitarist Mike DeWolf, a reunion with original Drummer Jarrod Montague, and the addition of Taylor Roberts. Together, they team up Lead Vocalist/Lyricist Stephen Richards and original Bassist Phil Lipscomb.

Now that you are up to date, the first impression you will get from Taproot’s return is that they are staying true to themselves. In an era where it seems like many bands are trying to follow current trends just to get attention, Taproot sticks to writing songs that they want to write, they know their fans would enjoy hearing, but still showing growth as artists. This is evident with tracks like “No One Else to Blame” and “Imagining, however, the most points here would have to be “2nd Thought,” “Love Without You,” “Ma,” and the closing bonus cut “Hey.” These highlighted tracks marry Taproot’s unique blend of Alternative Metal from their early years with some really unique production elements and lyrics that show a broader, wiser perspective. Additionally, it must be said there is a tremendous amount of beauty in the heartbreaker “Love Without You” which features guest vocals from Michigan born Country Singer Audrey Ray.

Overall, SC\SSRS is a worthy return for Taproot after what has seemed like forever. The songs are well-composed, the production is uniquely done by Richards, and the feel is right on. A comeback worth your time, Cryptic Rock gives SC\SSRS 4 out of 5 stars.

Taproot – SC\SSRS \ THC MUSIC/Amplified Distribution (2023)

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