Taproot - Gift
(Velvet Hammer / Atlantic)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed July 27, 2000
By Tony BonyataNo wonder Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst is teed-off. When Ann Arbor, Michigan band Taproot sent Durst a demo tape for consideration on Limp Bizkit's Flip / Interscope label, Durst fell in love with what he heard, promising the band a deal. When Durst's promise took too long to materialize, however, the boys went elsewhere for a label deal, which they found with System Of A Down's new-formed label with Atlantic - Velvet Hammer.
After learning of this, Durst left Taproot frontman Steve Richards a nasty message on his answering machine. "You don't ever bite the hand that feeds, bro'," he scolded Richards. "I took you under my wing, and you embarrassed me and the Interscope family. Your association with Limp Bizkit does not exist. Your manager slings that name around. He's gonna be erased, and you will too."
But the last laugh may be on Durst. Since signing with Atlantic, not only has Taproot released a strong major label debut album, entitled Gift, but they've also landed a dream gig for any up-and-coming heavy metal band - a slot in the coveted Ozzfest 2000 tour.
On Gift bandmembers Michael DeWolf (guitars), Philip Lipscomb (bass), Jarrod Montague (Drums) along with vocalist Richards have successfully melded heavy metal with alternative rock. Songs such as "Dragged Down," "Emotional Times," "Again & Again" and "Now" are reminiscent of the best alternative bands of the '90s such as Alice In Chains, Nine Inch Nails and Stone Temple Pilots, while numbers such as the opening track "Smile" and search-and-destroy angst of "Mentobe" will give metal-mongers something to bang their heads to.
Richards avoids the rap-over-metal rantings that bands like Limp Bizkit, Korn and Rage Against The Machine have made so popular, and instead turns in a powerful vocal performance that shifts from hypnotic droning to aggro-guttural screaming on a dime, while the rest of the band carefully balances meaty riffs with grungy melodies.
With a promising future ahead of them, it seems that the only help that Taproot needed from Limp Bizkit was no help at all.
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