Seether – ‘Poison The Parish’ (Spinefarm/Canine Riot Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Jonni D   
Monday, 08 May 2017 04:00

Seether - PTP artSeether has always been an old reliable of the alternative rock scene. With every release, you could always be assured of quality songwriting that veers away from the overly simplistic formula adhered to by so many of the bands that make it big in that genre. However, if there was one nitpick, it would be that in attempting to ensure greater success with a rock radio audience, the powers that be allowed the inherent raw intensity of the band’s music to become jeopardised. With 2005’s ‘Karma And Effect’ being something of an exception, for the most part their recorded output has been victim of an over-polished production. Their upcoming release, ‘Poison The Parish’, antithetically represents the band in all of their sonic and emotional rawness, while underscoring their proclivity for seamlessly merging aggression and fragility.


With vocalist/guitarist Shaun Morgan manning production duties, ‘Poison The Parish’ is an album that is allowed to breathe with its own sonic identity. The lingering feedback on ‘Stoke The Fire.’ The chord slides on ‘I’ll Survive.’ The cymbal overhang on ‘Nothing Left.’  All of these idiosyncrasies would be deemed blemishes on a more “pretty” sounding record, but these moments add to the overall character of the songs. It amounts to an album of organic quality; the audible evidence of dirt under the fingernails, as the songs are represented in their most honest, naked state.


While Seether has always dabbled in aggression, there’s certainly an added emphasis on the heavier material this time around. Opener ‘Stoke The Fire’ sets the tone with its ugly, dissonant intro leading into a rolling riff that evokes ‘Undertow’ era Tool. The deftness of the band’s shifting dynamics allow the bridge and outro section to sound hulking, without simply resorting to upping the gain and distortion. Similarly, lead single ‘Let You Down’ boasts a swinging riff that would do Helmet’s Page Hamilton proud, and a pulsing verse section which showcases the strength of Dale Stewart (bass) and John Humphrey (drums) as a rhythm section. ‘Saviours’ stands tall as one of the most high octane songs the band has ever written, while ‘Emotionless’ applies heavy reverb on a track that evokes the esoteric material of A Perfect Circle as well as the dense layering of Alice In Chains.



Rather than share the guilt of many of their genre contemporaries, Seether don’t rely on a token ballad on ‘Poison The Parish.’ Instead, the band manipulates dynamics in such a way to allow for harsh and ambient to co-exist within a given song. Case in point, ‘I’ll Survive’: beginning with clean, effected guitars, the chorus is subject to the same sparse, gritty production as the heavier material, resulting in a massive hook of a refrain that still carries significant sonic weight. This is also evidenced on ‘Against The Wall’ and ‘Let Me Heal’, the pulsing rhythms and ambient flourishes of the verses slow-burning to building crescendos which burst forth from the speakers.


‘Betray And Degrade’ deviates into a more lo-fi rock approach, with Shaun’s percussive guitar style and unique vocal phrasing coming to the fore. Album closer ‘Sell My Soul’ is a mostly acoustic track, elevated by the bluesy swagger of the unprocessed lead guitar line as an injection of grungey virtuosity. It’s a new approach for the band, and like the other experimental moments on ‘Poison The Parish’, it works remarkably well.


While the lyrical and vocal honesty has never been in doubt regarding Seether’s previous output (and that remains the case with this album), never has the band been represented with such musical integrity. Because of this, ‘Poison the Parish’ is the band’s most accomplished work; not only a formidable collection of alternative rock songs, but a wonderful snapshot of artists being freed from the shackles of the more unsavoury and constricting aspects of the music industry, and the fruits that can be borne from it.


‘Poison The Parish’ is released on Friday (12 May).


Read our interview with Shaun Morgan HERE.


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