Victory Records 2012
Taproot‘s insight to distance themselves from the trappings of the nu-metal scene that brought them success early on surely looked brighter all those years ago. The band clearly had all the necessary buzz to follow along a similar career path as say a Chevelle or Linkin Park. As recent years have proven however, that didn’t happen.
Instead, their continued identity crisis seemed at odds with their bids for renewed mainstream success. This time swaying between the accessibility of active rock schlock and the leftovers of Deftones and Muse; there’s little here that stands out as unique.
On paper the ambitiousness of the “The Episodes” certainly sounds promising. Based around an overarching concept that finds each song representing a specific episode in the story; the band crafted a vivid canvas to work with. But while they likely envisioned this as some type of HBO-styled high production epic—the end result plays out more like a PBS reenactment.
The songs are overloaded with dreary melancholy and sluggish ideas. The melodies are often so muddled that it becomes a chore to decipher them. The sparse moments of clichéd aggression fare no better either—feeling more like fan service than emotional venting.
Music of this ilk lives and dies by its hooks. Sadly, those employed here (sans maybe “Good Morning“) are about as sharp as paperclip. Perhaps the most damning element of “The Episodes” though is the cheesy voice synthesizer (ala Stephen Hawking) that’s interspersed throughout it. Its inclusion is so detached and bewildering that it’s hard to take any track that features it seriously.
An underlying sense of resignation ostensibly pulses throughout “The Episodes“. The youthful passion has dwindled and it shows. These days the band’s output feels more like an escape from their day jobs and their families than an authentic outlet for artistic expression. “Must see TV” this is not.
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