Review Summary: Seether's collection of singles, b-sides and rarities is so flat and uninspired that it's borderline obscene.
Look at the cover of Seether
’s greatest hits album Seether 2002-2013
for just a second before you read this further. Its lush green grass background with the distracting act of a pug dog squatting over it and letting nature take its course; Kurt Vonnegut himself couldn’t think of a more appropriate metaphor.
If the green grass represents the natural world of grunge music, a genre so ingrained with removing the spectacle and focusing on something “real”, then the completely unavoidable image of the crapping dog is post-grunge. It overshadows the purity of grunge with an act of perversion and disrespect. Seether are a band that jumped on the post-grunge bandwagon alongside Nickelback
, Three Days Grace
and Breaking Benjamin
, commercializing grunge even further than Nirvana did, but draining it of creativity. It was what hair metal was in the 80’s and nu-metal was in the late 90’s. After six albums (not including Fragile
from when they were called Saron Gas), Seether have engulfed rock radio, producing commercial hit after commercial hit. Not content with that, the band has compiled a double-CD compilation dating back to 2002’s Disclaimer
. What you get with Seether 2002-2013
is a look at one of the most stagnant discographies in modern music, one from a band that hasn’t had any intention of doing anything interesting since 2002.
The first disc on Seether’s collection is comprised of all fifteen singles the band has released throughout the past eleven years. Taking the singles from 2002’s Disclaimer
all the way to 2013’s Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray
, it’s very easy to see where Seether began and how unchanged their musical direction has remained. During the early years of Disclaimer
, Seether smeared mud all over the commercially viable grunge archetype developed by Nirvana
. It’s grimy as all hell and singer Shaun Morgan’s voice has always tried to emulate Kurt Cobain’s, but has failed in range and virtuosity, making his sound like a Nirvana cover band singer with a sore throat. But the aggression heard in “Gasoline” is surprisingly catchy and there are moments in “Driven Under” where you can a lining of potential. It’s here where Seether had a shot to break out in a better way; Disclaimer
remains their best album and the three included singles, while still uninspired, do the job of sticking by that point.
The band’s dark days begin to seep in with the Amy Lee duet “Broken”, the song that catapulted them into the pop territory. Back in 2004, it definitely had a distinctive sound; the gruff post-grunge sound of Morgan mixed with the soprano of Amy Lee was something with a hint of appeal. It wasn’t original, but it was a way to show Seether’s potential beyond Morgan’s guttural singing style. The Karma and Effect
song “Remedy” is upbeat enough to separate itself from the melodramatic mess of “The Gift”, while “Truth” grunts its way to mediocrity. But it wasn’t until Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces
where the band’s truest colors were shown. It was a bad album with its timelessly awful lyrics in “Rise Above This” and the most pathetic excuse for criticism on “selling out” on “Fake It.” The filthiest on the album comes from the Wham!
cover “Careless Whisper”, a cover that destroys the original with Morgan’s (once again) terrible voice and creatively exhausted musicianship. Every trace of brief uniqueness heard from the Disclaimer
singles is gone.
If Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces
didn’t poison whatever was left of your impression of Seether, Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray
is where it all ends. It’s a terrible album already, but the singles are where it completely hits rock bottom. Describing the total dearth of anything interesting in “Country Song” or the trainwreck ballad “Tonight” is not something that should be attempted without a few breathing exercises and unwinding drinks. It simply can’t be overstated how bad the album is and the singles included on the compilation are easily the worst and mis-constructed songs on that album.
The second disc features unreleased tracks, b-sides, demos and a cover of the Veruca Salt
song “Seether” (which, as you might expect, is the song the band takes their name from). Considering what Veruca Salt were doing during their hey-day in the 90’s, Seether’s cover is downright obscene. It’s riff-heavy to an unnecessary degree. From the second track “Safe To Say I’ve Had Enough” to the ninth “No Shelter”, everything blends together. The stagnant radio rock song structure is abused to death, and outside of a very brief moment of inventive purity in “Blister,” the first nine songs are just as soulless and empty as the entire first disc of singles. There is nothing worthy of note here.
For what it’s worth, though, the demos aren’t the lowest level the band has reached, but still sound uninspired. The rough and unrefined aesthetic tends to evoke more garage band than chart-topping rock, but the demo “Burn the Bridges” is, remarkably, an okay song. It’s not great by any means (or even particularly good), but it’s at least something different from the rest of Seether’s discography. “Butterfly With Teeth” is another example of a demo infused with potential, but once again, it’s nothing too special. The best song on the entire compilation is the “Melodious” demo, whose soft tone does wonders to offer some breathing room behind Shaun Morgan’s disgusting belch of a voice. For a band devoid of personality, “Melodious” is a blessing, but it’s a blessing so late to the party that it doesn’t do anything to clean the taste of the other twenty-six tracks out.
The metaphor on the cover could not have been a mistake. The approval of this image as cover art clearly implies that the guys in Seether are in on the joke; they know that what they’re doing isn’t anything but a fat turd on the front lawn of classic grunge and if that’s the case, then they’re probably one of the most lucrative pranks on mainstream rock seen in decades. But if it was a joke, that still doesn’t remove the fact of how completely stale and husked Seether’s music is. With over a decade of experience in the music world, Seether have done nothing to change, nothing to evolve and nothing to remember. The redistribution of already terrible singles and a huge missed opportunity to do something unexpected in the second disc combine to make a “greatest hits” album with nothing on its bones. If you needed a reminder to dislike Seether today, Seether 2002-2013
(prank or not) is the way to go.