Review Summary: Seether knuckles down and produces their best album in ten years, against just about all the odds.
It would be easy to be cynical about Poison the Parish
. Radio rock’s halcyon days are surely long gone, and Seether has never exactly been the best-received band in the scene, so their releasing a new album in 2017 almost feels like a joke on principle. However, when placed alongside previous Seether releases, especially those from this decade, this one actually holds up very well. Although their critics might accuse Seether of churning out the same album time and again, the South African trio has made (admittedly fairly small) steps in recent years to switch up their sound, and Poison the Parish
sees this coming full circle. It’s the heaviest they’ve been since 2007’s Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces
, yes, but it also feels like the most intentional.
Don’t misunderstand: this is very much a typical Seether album. Whichever sonic traits come into your head when you think of Seether, they’re probably all here: uncomplicated guitar riffs and drum lines, alternately angry and sorrowful lyrics, hoarse vocals, sprawling ballads, and a healthy dose of Nirvana worship to boot. As such, if you’re not already won over by the band, then this album isn’t guaranteed to turn you into a believer. On top of that, there are some moments on Poison the Parish
that recall Seether’s past more so than others – “I’ll Survive” comes off like a spiritual successor to “Fine Again”, and “Something Else” wouldn’t necessarily sound out of place on 2011’s Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray
And yet, for all of the old ground this album might tread, it does a lot to maintain the listener’s interest. Perhaps Seether’s biggest challenge has always been taking their meat-and-potatoes rock sound and keeping it engaging over 40 minutes. Poison the Parish
accomplishes this, for two key reasons: not only are the songs reasonably diverse (example: the heavily Tool-esque “Let You Down” placed next to the atmospheric alt-rock of “Against the Wall”), but even when things are at their most generic, the band sounds driven enough to make this less noticeable. Take the single “Nothing Left”, for instance: while it may not be anything we haven’t heard from Seether before, the band sounds as if they mean
what they’re doing – there’s more fieriness to be found here than in much of their previous work. In a genre infamous for sounding tired and played-out, Shaun Morgan and co have done their best to keep the energy levels high, and it shows.
Maybe it’s too early to name Poison the Parish
as Seether’s best work yet, partly because some of their earlier records have set the bar pretty high. But it has to be up there somewhere. With this record, Seether has delivered far more than anyone expected of them, and even if it takes a few years, I’m sure it will one day earn ‘classic’ status amongst their fans. If nothing else, Poison the Parish
will be remembered as the album with which Seether brought themselves back up from the brink of irrelevancy, and proved there was still a surprising amount of life left in them.