REVIEW: SEETHER – “Poison The Parish”
Since the beginning of their career, Seether have blended the hard edge in metal with the upbeat, commercial and at times even fun side of rock. And while, to their credit, the writing may be diverse and genre style forever debatable (though not necessarily to post-grunge elitists), some things about the band have always remained the same. The most prominent being that Seether have always rallied, spoke for and related to the undesirables; the ugly kid, the fat kid, the kid in the corner or the kid afraid to speak. And why? Because they understood them.
Now, with Shaun Morgan, vocalist, guitarist and primary songwriter in the band, taking the reigns of the producer role, Seether are set to drop their new album, the highly anticipated ‘Poison the Parish’ on May 12th and fans are eager to know what lies beyond the play button.
For those who may new be new here and looking for some insight, Seether, once known as Saron Gas and released the album ‘Fragile’ under the name, have been humbly dominating the scene for the better part of two decades since they landed their monster debut as Seether, the game changing ‘Disclaimer’ in 2002. For fellow long time fans, this is no new news to you, but a refresher never hurts! The album featured hits such as “Fine Again”, “Broken” and was so well received it was re-released with extra tracks including the acoustic based “Broken” re-imagined as an electric ballad featuring Amy Lee of Evanescence. Since then, the band have produced one great record after another. ‘Karma and Effect’, ‘Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces’, ‘Holding on to Strings Better Left to Fray’ and ‘Isolate and Medicate’ are all, on their own merit, incredible records that thrive on their own unique vibes. As if this wasn’t enough of a catalogue, an intimate live acoustic performance entitled ‘One Cold Night’ strips the band back to their bare bones as their self titled greatest hits displays some of the best they have to offer and more. With that, we tip our hats to the past and look on to what’s about to come.
‘Poison the Parish’ cracked open a very small window some weeks back and through the crack slipped out the records leading single “Let You Down”. With previous leading singles working in a similar vain to each other such as “Remedy”, “Rise Above This”, “Word as Weapons” etc, a certain kind of commercial quality came to be expected from the trio. This time around, it became clear quite quick that this was not to be the typical Seether single. Accompanied by an unsettling black and white video featuring strange and distorted images in between shots of the band performing, visually “Let You Down” comes uncomfortably close to chaotic. Since then, the pent up rage in “Stoke the Fire” and sheer hopelessness in “Nothing Left” have also been shared with fans and while there has been a three for three success rate with regards to fans warm response to the new material, many wonder when the next “Fake It” or “Country Song” is going to make an appearance. While spoilers are rarely necessary, in this instance they seem fitting. There is no big, friendly Seether single on this record and, in truth, that has ended becoming one of its most interesting points.
If you are adamant on finding a song that is even slightly reminiscent to the bands older material,”Something Else” is about as close as you are going to get. Morgan has been enjoying the freedom of not answering to producers and while initially this may have been terrifying for him, when you hear the bands unity in tracks like “Betray and Degrade”, you quickly understand that no one knows the Seether sound better than the guys themselves. Drummer John Humphrey and bassist Dale Stewart lock horns as a rhythm section like never before here. With the addition of their touring guitarist Clint Lowery (Sevendust), curiosity continues to peak as to what these guys have planned for when they hit the road. The album closes on “Sell My Soul”, not only a stand-out track for its more mellow demeanor, but also in breaking the tension and coming full circle. Morgan once said that there is at least one track on each Seether record that saved his life at that time, and that without these songs he would surely put a bullet in his head, turning to a guitar over a gun on several occasions. “Sell My Soul” is a relief from all the chaos found in the songs that live before it and in a strange way, it feels like Morgans’ relief here also. Morgan locked himself up for eight months to write as he puts it, an intense process the singer favors, and with that came much of the material found here.
The poet, Cesar A. Cruz, once said with regards to art, that he sees his role as a simple one; “to comfort the disturbed, and to disturb the comfortable”. For as long as they have been making music, it would seem Seether have embodied the spirit in which these words were spoken, in every note and lyric they have produced to date. ‘Poison the Parish’ is not only no exception to this, in the bands career, it may be in fact be the most blatant and raw example of it. Within these songs, there are moments that are almost difficult to listen to. Not from any lacking in good production or songwriting, no, but from the sheer cut throat honesty Seether strive to deliver time and time again. When you hear this record, it is as if you had listened to someone confess their worst sins, the burdens they carry and the struggles they combat every day, like their utmost trust has been bestowed upon to you, the listener, from someone in their most vulnerable of states. With that, the burdens are shared, the struggles a little less lonely and sins understood, maybe even forgiven? It is part of their talent that exceeds writing and performing music, with the honesty they convey as their strongest asset, Seether have an incredible ability, shared by only a few, to make the crumbling world of one a little easier to breathe in and, dare we say, being disturbed a little more comforting.