Some general impressions
I own both major albums by Taproot. 'Gift' as well as 'Welcome'. I enjoyed 'Gift' actually, but 'Welcome' was pretty poor to me. I heard the first single 'Poem', and thought "Different style, but not bad. Why not?"
After listening to the record the first time, I was kinda confused. Ok, this was the voice of Stephen Richards, but... no more screaming and shouting (which does not have to be negative). But very mellow instrument playing. Very early it get's clear that Taproot try to explore different musical territories. Some songs still remind one of the old days of 'Gift', like 'Myself', 'Fault' or 'Sometimes'. But only for the first couple of seconds. After that, I'm reminded of Incubus' 'Make yourself' or Hoobastanks 'Self-titled' albums.
Don't get me wrong, I kinda like both bands. Hoobastank and Incubus. But this seems like a pathetic attempt to be like them. The heaviness and their own sound has been gone. If it wasn't for the voice of Richards, the songs could be mistaken for songs of the bands mentioned above.
Still this album has it's moments. 'Poem' is nothing special, but a solid headbanger. 'Art' has an interesting chorus, which I realy like, as well as experiments with string arrangements. One of the better songs.
What I really like about the album:
Generally, I'm a fan of screamed and shouted vocals with melodic vocals. (Best example: Killswitch engage- Alive or just breathing?) And on some songs on this record, it is done not bad. 'When' for example. Like I mentioned before, the use of strings on 'Art' is not bad either. And to be honest: I'm always happy when a band tries something new. And in that special way, 'Welcome' is a good record.
What was not so good:
The downside this is, that this record sounds like a copy of 'Make yourself'. About 95% of the time I'm reminded of Incubus. Or worse, Hoobastank (meaning a copy of a copy). The instruments are not that bad, but Steven Richards vocals are somehow...boring. He sounds pretty much the same all the time. Like a stencil used for every song. No real variations, what is not that bad if you make music like Hatebreed for example. But on 'Welcome' there is little to no chance to recognise a song by the sound of the vocals IMO.
I enjoyed 'Gift', but this a weak record. Almost no song stays in your ears. Neither positive, nor negative. Before thinking about doing this review, I tried to remember what songs are on that record. I knew that Poem was on it. But could not remember one melody of the song, or much worse: one part of the lyrics. Normally, I know the lyrics to a song inside out after hearing it about 3 or 4 times. For me, a very bad sign. Plus the constant reminders of Incubus. It sounds like a bad 'Make yourself' copy, without a real own unique sound. Im pretty disappointed, as I still like to listen to 'Gift' every now and then.
Suggestions (or songs I liked): Poem, Art
2/5 :( (plus one half point in mind for the effort to evolve. Nice try, but bad luck)