Of the litany of post-grunge bands that clogged up the mid-2000s, Seether were one of the better ones. Maybe hailing from South Africa gave them a bit more to prove than their American counterparts, or maybe it was the fact that their take on grunge actually added in some metal and didn’t see it washed down into a tepid slurry, but sit them next to Staind or Puddle Of Mudd, and Seether could run circles around them. True, it’s not the most august company, but in a similar way to Nickelback transcending banal radio rock limitations by just doing it better than everyone else, Seether’s additional heft does make them stand out for the better.
That being said, they’re nothing close to the best or most boundary-pushing band, which might as well be a message plastered all across Poison The Parish. For album seven, Seether are comfortably sticking to their guns, and this weighs heavily all across this album. It at least highlights the omnipresent positives of all Seether albums, the biggest of which being frontman Shaun Morgan. There’s actual power and fire in his vocals with short blasts of screams on a track like Betray And Degrade showing some minor but welcome versatility that the genre could definitely use. Even in the songwriting, there’s an almost total aversion of trite lyrical clichés, and songs like Let Me Heal and I’ll Survive which are designed as more lyrically driven, personal tracks actually give that impression to greater degree. But where Seether have always sprinted ahead of their contemporaries is in the instrumentation, and on Poison The Parish, what was already a heavier take on the post-grunge formula has been turned up even more. The band’s influences from metal are brought further forward this time, and as such, there’s an aggression in Stoke The Fire and Nothing Left that’s frequently an alien concept in Seether’s world.
Everything may seem fine initially, but that’s only when viewing this album in a vacuum. Again, Poison The Parish contains every Seether-ism that this band have under their belts, and that equally works to its detriment. While the heavier guitars may suggest that they’re going some way towards progression, compared to any significant change made by virtually any band, this still feels like Seether recycling a well-worn formula in the hope of achieving a similar effect. It’s a painfully slow album, both in the near-constant grind of the guitars and Morgan’s vocals sounding uncomfortably strained rather that gritty. What’s more, the sluggish pace is rarely changed, only for the obligatory couple of ballads Against The Wall and Sell My Soul that deposit themselves in firmly in the groan-worthy post-grunge weepers category.
Really, Poison The Parish can only be judged in terms of overall views towards Seether. There’s nothing that pushes the boat out but it does everything it really needs to do, and even then, that’s the same summation that could be given to any of the band’s more recent material. Seether aren’t a bad band and Poison The Parish at least hasn’t succumbed to the least desirable tropes of the genre, but it’s an album that feels to stuck in its ways and really has no appeal to anyone beyond their current fanbase. If Seether don’t want to pull any new fans then that’s their business, but they could at least make it a bit less explicit.
For fans of: Chevelle, Three Days Grace, Hinder
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Poison The Parish’ by Seether is out now on Canine Riot Records / Concord Records.