Review: Taproot – Plead The Fifth

Artist: Taproot
Album: Plead The Fifth
Genre: Rock
Label: Victory

Some bands, just like Freddy Kruger, simply won’t die. No matter the way the industry treats them or how their fans come and go, some bands find muster up the power to stand against whatever adversity comes there way and continue to chug on for years and years. While the scene Victory Records encompasses is generally too vapid for such a feat, one of their latest signings, the now 13 year old Taproot, is whole different beast. The band broke out in 2002 with Welcome, but have since continually fallen short of their one time success. However, apparently Tony Brummel believes his magic touch can turn that around and the vehicle for which the band makes their Victory Debut hit stores this week. Plead the Fifth is an eleven track exploration of hard rock and post grunge that reminds us why so many turn of the millennium bands have go to the wayside in the past decade.

Kicking things off with a forceful wave of chugs and distortion, “Now Rise” almost literally took me by surprise. Having left the world of music Taproot thrives in about the time I entered high school, I was only reminiscent of their video for “Poem.” This track is much heavier than any of that material, but still features the nearly clean vocals we’ve all come to known, love, and probably by now [for the most of us], forget. However, by the time “Game Over” began, the group settled more than happily into the signature sound I remembered from 2002. Now, while some of you may claim this to be a good thing, I’m going to have to disagree because really, what people [especially in the 20-early 30’s age range] remains the exact same for the better part of the decade? Heck, I tried on three shirts just to start the day and these four dudes never wanted anything more than to plateau as the century changed? I don’t buy it. However, I will be lack of creativity, but someone’s been paying for new album after new album, so maybe I’m in the minority here.

The album clammers along with few highlights to speak of. “Fractured” and “Release Me” both pack hooks that will rattle with you for days, but by even the sixth or seventh track of chug/chord/hook/chug/distortion/chord/hook/bridge/hook, its hard to remember exactly which songs were catchy and which simply blended into the fog that is Plead The Fifth. Lucky for Taproot, “Words Don’t Mean a Thing” does a more than rewarding job of breaking the album’s mold and giving us a true standout track. Its almost entirely chord driven and seems perfect for a top-down Summer getaway which is exactly what a band of this age needs to keep selling. When you’re last two records charted at 33 [Blue-Sky Research], then 65 [Our Long Road Home], its obvious your “fanbase” is dwindling and you need to make a move – fast. Unfortunately, almost as fast as this glimmer of hope appears, its taken away by more static Taproot distortion vs. clean style songwriting on “No View is True.” I will add that their is great lyrical depth on this track, but it took me at least 3 listens to even discern the overall sound from the majority of the record and even then it probably only caught my eye as the song before the last track, “Stares,” which is solid, but far too little too late.

I won’t lie, I’ve always been a bit of a Victory Records fan boy, but right now I have no idea what made Tony Brummel take a risk with this band. I understand that other labels [read: Rise] have done alright this Spring by releasing aging bands new records [specifically, the new Bled album slays], but not every early millennium band with chugs inserted into rock needs to be revived. Taproot got signed following a demo submission to Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit and if that alone isn’t enough to date the band and their sound, I don’t know what is. Plead The Fifth, while a decent attempt to revive a dying band, fails to offer anything the group hasn’t given us before and that is its ultimate downfall. Sure, longtime fans will be pleased, but if those longtime fans numbered great at all the group would still be on Atlantic and not on a label considered a “gateway” for young talent.

They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, so maybe this one should just be put to rest.

Score: 4/10
Review written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Alan

    Well your review is wrong, and this band should not be put to rest. Only people who know what good music is are fans of Taproot…too bad a majority of people out there don’t know what good music is.