THC MUSIC / Amplified Distribution
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. VIP (Victim I Play)
02. Favourite Song (ft. Elias Soriano)
03. We C_ntrol Our Destiny
04. No One Else To Blame
05. Scared Together
06. Imagining
07. 2nd Thought
08. Love Without You (ft. Audrey Ray)
09. The Best Things In Life
10. Ma
11. (Bonus Track) Hey

Sure, a lot of nu-metal rose up from California; think LINKIN PARK or KORN. But, the movement wasn't confined to one geographical locale as other movements were, think Seattle or the Sunset Strip. Instead, nu-metal ravaged its way across America, often popping up in places you would least expect.

Such was the case with TAPROOT, who formed in the college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1997. TAPROOT had a unique, alternative metal sound with a bit of thrash, and it caught the ears of Atlantic Records, who released the band's 2000 major-label debut, "Gift". While "Gift" was solid, it wasn't until TAPROOT released their next record, "Welcome" (2002),  that they really became a major player in that era of music. The album's singles "Poem" and "Mine" shot up the alternative charts, making them one of the biggest nu-metal bands of the genre's so-called secondary movement.

Following up TAPROOT's 2012 studio album, "The Episodes", the band are back, after going on an indefinite hiatus, with their seventh studio album, "SC\SSRS". Nu-metal is alive and well in 2023, and "SC\SSRS" is a shining example of that. "VIP (Victim I Play)" starts the set, bringing the heavy guitars and dark rhythms that are the foundation of TAPROOT's sound. Another major part of TAPROOT's instantly recognizable style is lead vocalist Stephen Richards's dissonant melodies and harmonies, which are all over this album. What's cool about "VIP" and, really, any of the songs on this album is that even though they're brand new, any TAPROOT fan would be able to instantly identify them upon first listen.

NONPOINT's vocalist, Elias Soriano, one of TAPROOT's contemporaries, appears on the next song, "Favourite Song". Of all the songs on this set, this is the most experimental, blending a variety of sounds and rhythms, from pop to alternative to heavy metal.

Elsewhere, "No One Else to Blame" is filled with roaring vocals and thick riffing, making this one of the heaviest songs on the album. It's a rager that shows TAPROOT aren't watering things down as they mature. On the opposite side of the spectrum, those looking for a heartfelt ballad will find it in "Love Without You", which features Detroit-area country singer Audrey Ray. Here, Ray offers crystal-clear harmonies as she and Richards sing together. Another stripped-down song is "Ma", which features delicate guitar lines that caress Richards's smooth, rich harmonies.

TAPROOT are here for the long-haul, and it's nice to see a band pour this much passion and creativity into album number seven. "SC\SSRS" also shows that TAPROOT aren't simply derivative, as they've evolved throughout the years and continue to add unique embellishments to their nu-metal basis.

Author: Anne Erickson
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