In a time when Michigan exploded as a hotbed of electronica and white-boy hip-hop innovation, Ann Arbor's Taproot emerged to restore Michigan to the riff-laden, rock & roll glory of the Ted Nugent '70s. Having built a heavy underground following through its live performances, early self-released albums, and website, Taproot stepped into the national spotlight with a debut bound to please 16 and 17 year olds everywhere. In rock & roll, timing is everything. Taproot's timing is both a blessing and a curse. Dropping in a time when rap-rock is all the rage, as it sells albums like mad, garners instant publicity from MTV, and packs stadiums in a new generation of concert festivals, Taproot is guaranteed media exposure and a large built-in fan base. That means sales. Unfortunately, Taproot's Gift is a late arrival to this party. Following the success and popularity of Korn, Limp Bizkit, Static-X, System of a Down, and Slipknot just to name a few, Taproot suffers by comparisons. There are just too few surprises on Gift. You don't want to compare Taproot to those other bands, but because of the timing of its release, it's impossible not to. It's all here: heavy riffs, distorted rapping vocals, "life sucks" lyrics, and angry growling. Lead vocalist Stephen Richards, while having an adequate range, seems to try his hardest to imitate Jonathan Davis of Korn. These guys seem serious about their music, which is refreshing. There are no gimmicks like clown masks or fake b-boy posing. This guys are just about hard rock & roll, and they do excel as musicians. Unfortunately, overall, Gift lacks personality, making the album a decent but disposable and unmemorable listen. A legion of 16 and 17 year olds will put this album on, crank it up, bang their heads, and pound away their frustrations. That's what this music is for and always has been. Taproot will have its loyal following of disillusioned wannabe rebels and pack arenas for years. If they had dropped Gift two years earlier, Taproot would be pioneers. Instead, they are adequate followers.
AllMusic Review by Brian Musich