Having reached the commercial heights of the post-grunge boom during the 2000’s, this decade has resembled a fall from grace for South African trio Seether. Latest efforts ‘Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray’ and ‘Isolate and Medicate’ sounded tired and rushed compared to the character driven hard rock that fuelled ‘Disclaimer’ and ‘Karma and Effect.’
Sixth album ‘Poison the Parish’ is an attempt for the band to rectify any accusations of weakening, as they unleash riffs with a heavier, chunkier tone than their recent efforts. Opener ‘Stoke the Fire’ sees frontman Shaun Morgan performing with an air of gritty determination, boasting: ‘I promise not to fight if you say you don’t like it, I bet you can’t, I bet you can’t’. Their streamlined songwriting which merges pop hooks with Alice in Chains-esque heavy melancholy has become the Seether standard by now, but it’s good to hear the band feel like they mean it again.
However, the charm of this rejoicing begins to wear off quickly. ‘Betray and Degrade’ is another fine offering of angst emblazoned rock with a tonne of bounce, but once the plodding ‘Something Else’ opens with the pace and energy of a beached whale, the appeal of the album begins to plummet hard. The overbearing sincerity on tracks like ‘Let Me Heal’ and ‘Against the Wall’s’ shot at sensitive Jimmy Eat World-style balladry isn’t fun for anyone, and even the more uptempo tracks like ‘Saviours’ suffer from taking themselves too seriously.
Ironically, the appeal of ‘Poison the Parish’ is that it was billed as being the heaviest Seether album to date, and while it is sonically heavier, the emotional weight added to it removes the subtle humour that gave their earlier material a little more personality. What we’re left with is a needlessly gloomy record from a band that seems to be running out of ideas.
‘Poison the Parish’ by Seether is released on 12th May on Canine Riot Records / Concord.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)